Dan Crenshaw, a Republican Congressman from Texas, did not mince any words regarding U.S. Olympian Gwen Berry. The congressman and former Navy SEAL condemned the American athlete for her behavior on Monday after she turned her back on the American flag during the national anthem while standing on the podium at this weekend’s Olympic Trials. Congressman Crenshaw went even further and stated that he thought Berry should be removed from Team USA.
“We don’t need any more activist athletes. She should be removed from the team. The entire point of the Olympic team is to represent the United States of America. That’s the entire point,” Crenshaw said during an appearance on “Fox and Friends” Monday morning.
“It’s one thing when these NBA players do it, okay fine, then we’ll just stop watching. Now the Olympic team, multiple cases of this, they should be removed. That should be the bare minimum requirement: that you believe in the country you’re representing.”
Fox News White House correspondent Peter Doocy asked Press Secretary Jen Psaki on Monday if President Joe Biden thought Berry’s behavior was “appropriate…for someone who hopes to represent Team USA?”
“I know [President Biden] is incredibly proud to be an American and has great respect for the anthem and all that it represents, especially for our men and women serving in uniform all around the world,” Psaki said.
“He would also say, of course, that part of that pride in our country means recognizing there are moments when we as a country haven’t lived up to our highest ideals, and it means respecting the right of people, granted to them in the constitution, to peacefully protest.”
Gwen Berry won a bronze medal and qualified for the Olympic team. But when it was time to stand on the podium with the gold and silver medal winners, Berry turned her back on the America flag. She also held up a black t-shirt that stated “Activist Athlete.”
“They said they were going to play it before we walked out, then they played it when we were out there,” Berry said after the event, according to the New York Post.
“But I don’t really want to talk about the anthem because that’s not important. The anthem doesn’t speak for me. It never has.”
“I feel like it was a setup, and they did it on purpose,” Berry said. “I was pissed, to be honest.”
“They had enough opportunities to play the national anthem before we got up there,” Berry continued. “I was thinking about what I should do. Eventually, I stayed there and I swayed, I put my shirt over my head.”
Susan Hazard, a USA Track and Field spokeswoman, said Berry’s assertion that the anthem was deliberately played while she received her medal was not true.
“The national anthem was scheduled to play at 5:20 p.m. today,” said spokeswoman Susan Hazzard. “We didn’t wait until the athletes were on the podium for the hammer throw awards. The national anthem is played every day according to a previously published schedule.”
Berry, who also went to the 2016 Olympics in Brazil, raised her fist on the podium after winning the hammer throw at the 2019 Pan-American Games in Peru, which led to one-year probation by the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee. The committee has since apologized to Berry.
At the Tokyo games, there will be a ban on “protests and demonstrations.” It is in place because the International Olympic Committee (IOC) upheld Rule 50, which states that “no kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas.”