Members of the U.S. men’s Olympic épée team took what is being called a stand against one of their teammates in Friday’s match against Japan, as Sports Illustrated confers. This symbolism was expressed as three of the members wore pink masks in a supposed move against their fourth teammate, who had allegedly been guilty of sexual assault.
#TeamUSA men’s epee team wore pink masks for their opening match at the Olympics as a show of support for sexual assault victims. Alen Hadzic— their teammate accused of rape and sexual assault— is on the left. Kudos to the team for taking a stand. #BelieveWomen pic.twitter.com/yRI4azelKN
— Ibtihaj Muhammad (@IbtihajMuhammad) July 30, 2021
Alen Hadzic, the fencer with the only black mask, had allegedly been accused of sexual assault by multiple women as the New York Times reports.
Though his lawyer said he was innocent as The Guardian expresses, this was not the first accusation against Hadzic.
In 2013-2014 he was suspended from Columbia University following an investigation involving sexual consent.
He was suspended from all fencing activities in early June, but appealed to said suspension and won.
Hadzic is even staying separately from the other athletes-Jake Hoyle, Curtis McDowald and Yeisser Ramirez who have taken an alleged stand against him.
a member of the team told me Curtis and the men’s épéeists wore pink masks today in support of their women teammates.
imma take an educated guess as to why: https://t.co/Ov40ggMIf5
— Bradford William Davis (@BWDBWDBWD) July 30, 2021
Though none of the three pink mask symbol bearers have officially confirmed the stance against Hadzic at this interval, reading between the lines it makes sense as to why people are suspecting that the message is more than just ‘support’ for female teammates. Taking into account Hadzic’s background and the fact that we was the only one not sporting pink does redirect attention to what topic their support was potentially targeting.
Regardless, the little pink symbol of support has done one thing: it’s got people talking about Hadzic.
Hadzic did not compete in the match, which the U.S lost.
Additionally, as per USA Today, USA Fencing has objected to Hadzic’s presence in Tokyo. CEO Kris Ekeren has sent an email to Hadzic:
“Team athletes have expressed concerns for their safety and well-being arising from your presence, which they say are likely to adversely affect their mental and emotional abilities to prepare and compete at the highest levels required for success in the Olympic Games,” the email read. “Several have asked that USA Fencing put measures in place to keep them safe and minimize distractions from training and competition. Accordingly, USA Fencing, in conjunction with the USOPC, will implement a safety plan for the upcoming Olympic Games.”