An old Bedouin proverb says me against my brother; my brother and me against our cousins; my brother, my cousins, and me against our neighbors. The point is to join together at ever greater levels, which eventually would mean my countrymen and me against other nations.
Olympian and gold medalist Monica Abbott takes that sentiment to heart.
Two of her Pan Am Game teammates see it otherwise.
Gold medal-winning fencer Race Imboden took a knee during his awards presentation on Friday to protest over social issues at home in the U.S., and encouraged other athletes to do the same
Hammer thrower Gwen Berry raised her fist as the U.S. national anthem played following her gold medal effort.
During the Games closing news conference on Sunday, Abbott said:
“One thing that makes the U.S. great is that we have this ability to have freedom in a lot of different things, it is a founding principle in our country — freedom of speech, freedom of religion. But as an athlete it is our opportunity to put differences aside whether they’re political, they’re athletic, to whether it is the way we look to put those aside to celebrate something that can bring the world together. That is what sport is about. That is what I think the Olympic and Pan American vision is about, bringing people together.”
Before competing internationally athletes sign agreements that forbid such protests.
Regarding Imboden’s protest, USOPC spokesman Mark Jones said in a statement:
“Every athlete competing at the 2019 Pan American Games commits to terms of eligibility, including to refrain from demonstrations that are political in nature. In this case, Race didn’t adhere to the commitment he made to the organizing committee and the USOPC. We respect his rights to express his viewpoints, but we are disappointed that he chose not to honor his commitment.
As with most other protests by athletes, chances are this will come to exactly nothing.