U.S. fencers wear pink masks to protest against teammate accused of sexual misconduct.
Alen Hadzic, a replacement for the US Olympic fencing team who is accused of sexual misconduct, was ostracized in Tokyo and prevented from staying in the Olympic Village.
On Friday, his teammates protested his presence face to face – or, more precisely, mask to mask. During the presentations of the team épée competition, three American fencers wore pink masks, apparently in support of victims of sexual assault, while Hadzic wore a black mask. A photograph of the unstable team showed the shooters standing in stark contrast.
“Congratulations to the team for taking a stand” tweeted Ibtihaj Muhammad, who won a bronze medal in the women’s saber competition in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 and became the first Muslim woman to represent the United States at the Olympics while wearing a hijab.
Hadzic, 29, who grew up in Montclair, New Jersey, was accused of sexual misconduct by three fencers in incidents between 2013 and 2015. At least two of the accusers knew Hadzic during their careers at the ‘Columbia University.
On June 2, Hadzic was temporarily suspended from fencing by the US Center for SafeSport, an independent non-profit organization established in 2017 to protect athletes from sexual, emotional and physical abuse.
Hadzic, who denied the charges, appealed to a referee, who ruled the suspension “inappropriate to the allegations” and restored his Olympic eligibility. His inclusion in the team, the referee wrote, would not “damage the reputation of the United States or its sport”.
But the US team shunned Hadzic in Tokyo. USA Fencing, the national governing body, informed Hadzic that his teammates had “expressed concerns for their safety and well-being arising from your presence.” He flew to Tokyo separately from the team and his attempt to secure accommodation in the Olympic Village was rejected in an arbitration hearing in Tokyo after opposition from his teammates. He stayed in a hotel.
Jacqueline Dubrovnik, a member of the US Olympic fencing team, posted on Instagram that wearing the mask on Friday was “performative activism” that “does not address the issue here.”
Apparently referring to the Hadzic case, Dubrovnik wrote that those who “allowed and protected a violent predator are not held accountable,” adding: “Female athletes were not protected and our safety was deemed unimportant. “.
Hadzic told USA Today on Saturday that he didn’t realize what was going on with the mask demonstration until he was sent a photo after the United States lost their tag team match to Japan. Friday. He told the newspaper that his teammate Curtis McDowald distributed the masks before the game and, when Hadzic asked if there was an extra pink, he was told no.
Hadzic told USA Today he later faced off against another swordsman, Jake Hoyle, and told him he was “embarrassed” to be Hoyle’s teammate. Hadzic said he also confronted teammate Yeisser Ramirez and “chewed” on him.
Jack Wiener, a New York lawyer who represents one of Hadzic’s accusers, said in a telephone interview on Saturday that he was “happy to see the athletes of the American team speak, where the administrative bodies responsible for protecting people from sexual misconduct have let the victims down. “
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