Three members of the US épée team that qualified for the Tokyo Olympics wore pink masks before match on Friday — a symbolic protest against a teammate who's been charged with sexual misconduct towards several women.
Jake Hoyle, Curtis McDowald and Yeisser Ramirez all wore pink face-masks before the start of the competition while Alex Hadzic — who has been accused of sexual assault — was the only member who wore a black face-mask.
According to The Guardian, when Hadzic qualified for the Tokyo Olympics, three women came forward to accuse him of sexual misconduct towards them shortly afterwards. In the wake of their allegations, the US Centre for SafeSport suspended the 29-year-old from all fencing activities. Hadzic appealed his suspension and won. However, he travelled to Tokyo separately from his teammates and stayed in a hotel away from the athletes’ village.
While Hoyle, McDowald and Ramirez’s pink face-masks were a symbolic protest against their teammate, they did not issue any verbal statements the denounce his acts publicly. Although it has been reported that almost every member of the fencing team objected to Hadzic’s inclusion at the Olympics and signed a petition against the decision.
Netizens have lauded the team's symbolic protest against Hadzic on social media, especially on Twitter.
One user tweeted her appreciation for when "men hold other men accountable for sexual assault".
"This is how you do it," another wrote on Twitter. "Men standing up against rape culture."
"This literally made my year," tweeted a user.
Hadzic was a backup on the US fencing team and did not compete in the actual competition, which the US men’s épée team lost to Japan on Friday, ending their run at the Tokyo Olympics.