US fencers wear pink masks to protest accused teammate

Alen HadzicAn alternate accused of sexual harassment on the U.S. Olympic fencing team was ostracized in Tokyo and prevented from staying at the Olympic Village.

On Friday, his teammates protested his presence face-to-face, or rather mask-to-mask. During promotions for the team epee competition, three US fencers wore pink masks, apparently in support of sexual assault victims, while Hadzic wore a black mask. A photo of the indecisive team showed the fencers standing in stark contrast.

“Thanks to the team for getting the team” Ibtihaj Mohammed tweeted, In 2016, she became the first Muslim woman to win a bronze medal in the women’s sword competition held in Rio de Janeiro and represent the United States at an Olympics by wearing a headscarf.

Hadzic, 29, who grew up in Montclair, NJ, was accused of sexual impropriety by three female fencers in events that occurred between 2013 and 2015. At least two of the accusers knew Hadzic during their careers at Columbia University.

On June 2, Hadzic was temporarily suspended by the US SafeSport Center, an independent nonprofit founded in 2017 to protect athletes from sexual, emotional and physical abuse.

He denied the charges and appealed to a referee who decided that the suspension was “not in line with the allegations” and restored Olympic eligibility. The referee wrote that his inclusion on the team “would not damage the reputation of the United States or its sport”.

The USA team, however, avoided Hadzic in Tokyo. The national governing body, USA Fencing, told Hadzic that his teammates “have expressed concern for their safety and well-being stemming from your presence.” He flew to Tokyo separately from the team, and his attempt to secure housing in the Olympic Village was rejected at an arbitration hearing in Tokyo after his teammates objected. He is staying in a hotel.

Jacqueline Dubrovich, a member of the US Olympic fencing team, wrote on Instagram on Friday that wearing a mask is “performative activism” that “does not solve the problem here.”

Making clear reference to the Hadzic case, Dubrovich wrote that “those who activate and protect a fierce predator will not be held accountable” and that “Female athletes were not protected and our safety was deemed unimportant”.

Hacic told America Today On Saturday, the United States didn’t realize what was going on at the mask protest until a photo was posted after they lost Friday’s tag team match against Japan. He told the newspaper that teammate Curtis McDowald was handing out masks before the game and Hadzic was told no when he asked if he had an extra pink mask.

Hadzic told USA Today that he later ran into another épée fencer, Jake Hoyle, who told him he was “ashamed” of being Hoyle’s teammate. Hadzic said he also confronted teammate Yeisser Ramirez and “trodden him”.

New York attorney Jack Wiener, who represents one of Hadzic’s accusers, said in a phone call on Saturday that he was “gratified to see the speeches of Team USA athletes, where the governing bodies tasked with protecting people from sexual exploitation have failed victims.” ”

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