USA Olympic Fencers Wear Pink Masks to Protest Alen Hadzic's Presence on Team

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVJuly 30, 2021

CHIBA, JAPAN - JULY 30: Jacob Hoyle of Team United States, left, and Curtis McDowald of Team United States react to their loss to Team Japan in Men's Épée Team Table of 16 on day seven of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Makuhari Messe Hall on July 30, 2021 in Chiba, Japan. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

United States fencers Jake Hoyle, Curtis McDowald and Yeisser Ramirez wore pink masks Friday in protest of epee teammate Alen Hadzic and in solidarity with sexual assault survivors, according to a report from Tasneem Nashrulla and Brianna Sacks of BuzzFeed News. 

Three women have accused Hadzic of sexual misconduct. He was suspended from the U.S. Olympic team by the U.S. Center for SafeSport in June before an arbitrator overruled that suspension, allowing him to compete at the Tokyo Games this summer.

USA Fencing has prohibited Hadzic from staying at the Olympic Village with his teammates, however, calling the decision part of a "safety plan." Hadzic has been staying at an offsite hotel instead and has been prohibited from practicing with his female teammates, per BuzzFeed News.

Josh Peter of USA Today reported earlier in July that Hadzic's attorney, Michael Palma, said at his client's appeals hearing that U.S. Olympic fencer Katharine "Kat" Holmes had "collected electronic signatures from every team member in support of a document stating Hadzic should not be allowed to participate at the Olympics."

Monday's protest by Hoyle, McDowald and Ramirez would appear to confirm the team's wishes.

"The disdain was clear," a source told BuzzFeed News.

"They decided to make a statement that they were not standing for him being there," a fencing athlete not competing in Tokyo added, per that report. "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."

Ibtihaj Muhammad, a 2016 Olympian for the United States who won a bronze medal in team sabre, applauded the trio for their stance:

Ibtihaj Muhammad @IbtihajMuhammad

<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/TeamUSA?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#TeamUSA</a> 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. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/BelieveWomen?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#BelieveWomen</a> <a href="https://t.co/yRI4azelKN">pic.twitter.com/yRI4azelKN</a>

Hadzic, who is in Tokyo as an alternate for the team, has denied the accusations of sexual assault and misconduct. 

"Frankly, they're untruths," he told Peter and Christine Brennan of USA Today. "They're just frankly not true."