The men’s U.S. Olympic team arrived in Tokyo for their opening match against Japan on Friday after wearing three fence pink masks.
But integrated masks were not coincidental; A source close to the group told BuzzFeed News that the trio staged a planned protest against their teammates.
The photo, shared on social media, shows three of the four men on the men’s team – Jack Hale, Curtis McDowald and Yeser Ramirez – wearing pink masks, while teammate Alan Hadzic – who is under investigation for sexual harassment – wearing a black dress.
“The hatred was obvious,” a source told BuzzFeed News.
Another fencing athlete who did not compete in the Tokyo Olympics said, “They have decided to make a statement that they do not stand for staying there.” “They wanted to make a difference among themselves that they did not stand for sexual abuse or abuse against women. These athletes wanted a voice where US fencing and safety support failed.”
Despite facing at least three allegations of past sexual misconduct, Hadzic was selected as the men’s team substitute for the 2020 Olympics, causing frustration and anger among Team USA fans, as detailed in a BuzzFeed News investigation.
Her inclusion requested six female fencers, including two Olympic athletes, to the International Olympic Committee so that she could not represent the United States; They said his presence was a “direct hatred” for fellow athletes and put them at risk.
The women wrote on May 20, “We are deeply concerned about the impact that Mr. Hadzik’s potential presence will have on other Team Athletes in Team USA.”
The U.S. Center for SafeSport, a nonprofit organization responsible for protecting athletes from abuse, suspended Hadzic from the Olympics last month over an investigation he fought to lift his ban through an arbitration process.
USA Fencing developed a “safety plan” to keep Hadzik out of the women and out of the Olympic Village, including his travels and isolation from his teammates.
She was also forbidden to practice with her female teammates.
Hadzic denied the allegations of sexual misconduct, telling USA Today that “they are untrue.” Her attorney, Michael Palma, told the New York Times that her client had never engaged in sexual harassment.
USA Fencing did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the pink mask.
But the stunt earned praise from U.S. fencer and 2016 Olympic medalist Ibtihaj Muhammad.
On Friday he tweeted, “Thank you on behalf of the team.”
Although Hadzic did not take part on Friday, the team came in ninth after losing to Japan.