A writer for ESPN claims to be disturbed by the presence of American flags at the Tokyo Olympic Games. William Rhoden told CBS This Morning that athletes at the Olympics are “held hostage” by nationalism and that the American flag has made him uncomfortable since January 6. Rhoden also said that the Olympics should have been cancelled altogether and that the opening ceremony is particularly disturbing to him, having once been his favorite part of the games.
Disturbed by flags at the Olympics
The delayed 2020 Olympic Games have been beset by a number of scandals and controversies emerging from political correctness and liberal concerns.
Several important Japanese organizers were fired in the months before the games began over past statements and a number of athletes planned to ignore rules against political protests at the games.
Gender equality requirements meant that each national flag at the opening had to be carried by both a male and a female athlete together, which created some awkward scenes as the flag bearers struggled to not look too absurd.
Still, the games themselves have thus far not been nearly as fraught as they could have been and athletes from all countries are generally behaving with proper respect for their flags and anthems and for their international competitors.
William Rhoden of ESPN, however, is far from the only observer who is finding things to be angry about. In his case it seems the entire concept of the Olympic Games is too flawed to be tolerated.
Flag raising and flag waving, particularly when the flags are American, supposedly make Rhoden think only of racism and white nationalism now.
— CBS This Morning (@CBSThisMorning) July 26, 2021
Missing the point
With some notable exceptions most athletes who attend the Olympic Games are honored to represent their country and to see their flag if they make it to the podium.
The fact that this disturbs Rhoden in the Olympics specifically is somewhat ironic given that these games were born out of an interest in bringing athletes from around the world together in mutual respect and good sportsmanship.
Russian athletes in Tokyo are being punished for an allegedly state sponsored cheating program by being deprived of their flag and national anthem while they compete formally as the Russian Olympic Committee.
The International Olympic Committee and the Russians believe that this is a punishment. If William Rhoden had his way every athlete would compete under these conditions by choice.
The national pride and unity that comes from cheering for the best each country has to offer is meant to be one of the great benefits of the games. Weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz displayed this perfectly with an emotional reaction after she won the first gold medal in Olympic history for the Philippines.
If William Rhoden had his way this moment would never have happened and a moment that inspired millions would have simply been an individual victory, devoid of any flag waving, anthem playing, or collective joy.