US Olympic Women’s hammer thrower Gwen Berry turned her back on the American Flag during the National Anthem. This incident happened during the medal ceremony of the Olympic trials in Eugene, Oregon. The National Anthem was playing during the medal ceremony which Berry was part of. The other two young ladies on the medal podium with Berry had no problem placing their hands over their hearts and facing the flag. Berry, however, turned her back on the flag and awkwardly placed her hand on her hip.
Berry won a bronze medal which rewards her with a trip to this year’s Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan. Her reaction to the National Anthem did not get much attention on the ground in Eugene. However, as soon as pictures of the incident began to pop up online, the news spread like wildfire. Reactions from people all over the country began to pour in. Some offered support and some offered condemnation.
Two-time Olympian Gwen Berry responded to the controversy surrounding her stunt almost immediately. She is angry about the anthem being played. She also feels like she was set up. The National Anthem is not played during medal ceremonies for Olympic Trials. However, the National Anthem is played every night at 5:20pm local time to kick off the evening session of the trials. The hammer throw medal ceremony just happened to take place at the same time. Gwen Berry may feel like she was caught off guard and that she had to react out of uncertainty of what to do. That excuse doesn’t really fly once one looks just a little bit beneath the surface.
An obvious point to make is the issue of Gwen Berry’s “Activist Athlete” t-shirt. Berry held the shirt up after refusing to acknowledge the flag for the anthem while still on the medal podium in Eugene. She then placed the shirt on top of her head in what appears to be an attempt to “shrink” or “hide” out of embarrassment. Then there is Gwen Berry’s track record. She held up a “fist” in solidarity with social justice activists at the Pan American Games in 2019. Berry produced an op-ed in the New York Times back in 2020 speaking about her activism. She also appeared in an NYT video covering the same subject.
Berry will not be punished for her actions due to a policy by the US Olympic Committee. If she engages in activism in Tokyo during the actual Summer Olympics, then that may be an issue. The International Olympic Committee has a policy against that and they have informed all athletes that they will enforce their policy.
This stunt appears to be more about Gwen Berry getting attention for Gwen Berry, and not necessarily some social-justice activism. Everyone already knows that there are issues in the United States that some people have an issue with. Whether these issues are truly legitimate or not is another question altogether. But there is no true need to create “awareness” by protesting at the Olympics. Nothing gets accomplished other than creating popularity for the protester.
Olympic hammer thrower Gwen Berry turns back to US flag
Hammer Thrower Gwen Berry Turns Away from Flag During Anthem
Hammer thrower Gwen Berry turns away from flag while anthem plays at trials – ‘I feel like it was a setup’
Why The Olympics Punished Me For Protesting | NYT Opinion – YouTube
Opinion | Gwen Berry: I Raised My Fist in Protest. The Olympics Punished Me. – The New York Times
Message sent: Berry turns away from flag during anthem
‘Disgusting, spoiled brat’ Gwen Berry isn’t after OLYMPIC gold. She’s trying out for the SPENDING kind.