An ESPN sportswriter on Monday said he didn’t like the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics because the American flag carried by the U.S. athletes reminded him of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot and the “rise of White nationalism.”
“I love the opening ceremonies, march of countries,” William Rhoden said on “CBS This Morning,” noting that he has long enjoyed covering the opening ceremonies for the games. “Then I realized, you know, man, particularly after these last four years, I had it wrong. Nationalism is not good. We’ve seen the rise of White nationalism. Nationalism is not good.”
“And also, this whole idea — I keep thinking back on the Capitol riots, and I saw a lot of, you know, U.S. flags,” Rhoden said.
“So now when I see the flag and the flag raised, what — what America am I living in? You know, are the ones that don’t think, you know, we should be here?”
Rhoden’s comments came after U.S. hammer thrower Gwen Berry turned away from the American flag as the national anthem played before the games began. She later donned a black T-shirt with the words “Activist Athlete” near the end of the national anthem. And the United States women’s soccer team kneeled before its opening-round contest against Sweden. Team USA lost 3-0 to Sweden, the first loss for the women’s soccer team since January 2019.
The men’s basketball team has also dipped a toe into the protests that have occurred in sporting events in the U.S. But Rhoden said the team is humbled after losing its first game in the Olympics in 17 years.
“I think we should be humbled. You know, I mean, this whole last year in this country — it’s about entitlement and privilege. Nobody epitomizes that more than basketball,” he said.
Rhoden’s words also followed those of NFL Hall of Famer Herschel Walker, who questioned why U.S. athletes would travel abroad and then bash America.
Walker, who was a member of the U.S. Olympic bobsled team in the 1990s, said his time as an Olympian made him more patriotic.
“People think I’m very harsh when I say this,” Walker said Friday on Fox News. “This is the United States of America, and if people don’t like the rules here — and there’s no doubt we can make some things better — but if people don’t like the rules here, why are you here?”
Walker said the Olympics is not “the right place” for U.S. athletes to protest America since there are foreign athletes “who would love to represent the United States of America” if they could.
“It’s very sad to me because any other country… I can promise you… they would not be representing that country,” he added. “I totally disagree with it, but they have the right to do it, even though I think it’s wrong. We have to have leaders that… are going to stand up and say the right thing. You can feel a certain way and I think that’s great, but this is the United States Olympics … . I’m not sure that’s the time or place.”