Twitter | @Race_Imboden

US Gold Medalist Faces Disciplinary After Taking A Knee During National Anthem

sydney.brooman 12 Aug 2019

Is it possible to separate political issues from the world of sports? According to contractual obligations for the Olympics and the Pan-Am Games, athletes must make this separation, as public political statements are not permitted while competing.

However, when you are not only representing yourself as an athlete, but also your country, does your compliance to these terms imply that you agree with everything your country stands for?

U.S. gold medalist Race Imboden is in hot water for his actions at the Pan-Am Games.

Instagram | @race_imboden

The Olympic fencer took home gold and bronze medals for Team USA over the weekend, but is facing severe backlash for making a political statement while the U.S. flag was being raised.

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Imboden took a knee during the national anthem.

Twitter | @Race_Imboden

After the ceremony, the fencer took to Twitter to address the event:

"This week I am honored to represent Team USA at the Pan Am Games, taking home Gold and Bronze."

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Though he was happy with his team's win, he felt that he couldn't fully represent his country with pride.

Twitter | @Race_Imboden

"My pride however has been cut short by the multiple shortcomings of the country I hold so dear to my heart," he continued. "Racism, Gun Control, mistreatment of immigrants, and a president who spreads hate are at the top of a long list."

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"We must call for change."

Instagram | @race_imboden

"I chose to sacrifice my moment today at the top of the podium to call attention to issues that I believe need to be addressed," the tweet continued. "I encourage others to please use your platforms for empowerment and change."

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Imboden's call for political action was inspired by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

Instagram | @race_imboden

Kaepernick first began taking a knee during the national anthem in 2016 in order to call attention to the frequent deaths of unarmed black men by police across the country.

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Imboden was not the only athlete at the Pan-Am games to make this kind of statement.

Twitter | @nzaccardi

American hammer thrower Gwen Berry won a gold medal over the weekend as well, and at the end of the U.S. national anthem, she raised her fist in the air, an unspoken association with Black Lives Matter.

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According to USOPC spokesman Mark Jones, both Imboden and Berry have violated terms outlined in their contracts.

Instagram | @race_imboden

"Every athlete competing at the 2019 Pan American Games commits to terms of eligibility, including to refrain from demonstrations that are political in nature," he stated. "In this case, Race didn’t adhere to the commitment he made to the organizing committee and the USOPC."

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"Our leadership are reviewing what consequences may result."

Instagram | @race_imboden

"We respect his rights to express his viewpoints," the statement continued, "but we are disappointed that he chose not to honor his commitment."

A similar statement was released regarding Berry's actions.

For the time being, it is unclear whether or not both athletes will have their medals revoked.

h/t: The Guardian

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