US Olympic fencers wear pink masks in protest at teammate accused of sexual assault

US Olympic fencers wear pink masks in protest at teammate accused of sexual assault
Alen Hadzic made to fly to Tokyo apart from rest of team and stay at separate hotel

Three American fencers wore pink masks in their opening Tokio 2020 match to protest the participation of a teammate accused of seksuele aanranding in the Olympics.

The trio of Jake Hoyle, Curtis McDowald and Yeisser Ramirez wore the pink masks, while Alen Hadzic, the accused fencer, wore a black one, before their contest with Japan.

He is an alternate on the men’s épée team in Tokyo despite at least three complaints having been made by women against him.

Hadzic and his lawyer have strongly denied the allegations made against him.

“They’re untruths,” he told USA Today before the start of the Olympics.

Hadzic was initially suspended by the US Center for SafeSport, the watchdog that protects athletes from abuse, because of the investigation.

But he fought and successfully managed to get his ban lifted through arbitration.

USA Fencing made Hadzic travel to Tokyo apart from the rest of the team and he has to stay in a separate hotel.

Under the “safety plan” he is also banned from practising around female teammates.

“The disdain was clear,” one source told BuzzFeed News about the mask protest.

Another fencer, who is not at the games, told the news outlet, that “they decided to make a statement that they were not standing for him being there”.

“They wanted to make a distinction between themselves that they didn’t stand for sexual assault or abuse against women. These athletes wanted to have a voice where US Fencing and SafeSport failed.”

Hadzic’s inclusion in the team led six female fencers, including two of the Olympic team, to urge the International Olympic Committee to prevent his participation.

“We are gravely concerned about the impact Mr Hadzic’s potential presence will have on other Span VSA atlete,” the women wrote back in May.

US fencer and 2016 Olympic medalist Ibtihaj Muhammad took to Twitter to praise the mask protest.

“Kudos to the team for taking a stand,”Het sy getwiet.

Hadzic did not participate in the match, which Team USA lost to Japan, finishing in ninth place.

Japan ended up winning the gold medal over the team representing the ROC, with South Korea taking bronze.

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