A Woke Olympian Can Only be a Free Olympian

Many of us became dis-interested in the Tokyo Olympics when the media focused on U.S. athletes turning their backs on the flag or taking a knee during the national anthem. In his Op-Ed, A Woke Olympian can only be a Free Olympian, author Allen Thomas explains that “wokeness” actually shows the beauty of America.

Alexander Lukashenko is called the last European Dictator even though his Belarusian title is President. So, when Belarusian officials tried to force Krystsina Tsimanouskaya, a 24-year-old sprinter, to take a flight home after she publicly criticized her coaches, she was worried about whether her life was in jeopardy. It does not take much of a Google search on Lukashenko to find out why this sprinter or any other sprinters for that matter, have tried to stay out of Belarusian politics or why she was concerned for her safety when the officials threatened her. To Lukashenko, criticizing the coaches was to criticize him so Krystsina asked for asylum in Poland knowing all this. Instead of running her 200 m race, she is now racing to safety in another country.

Compare that to former Olympian Carl Lewis this past week. After the US men’s 4X100m relay team finished an abysmal 6th place in a qualifying heat, preventing them for even competing for gold, Lewis eviscerated the coaching. He left nothing to the imagination about how poorly the team was constructed and the lack of preparation. Currently he does not have a threat of imprisonment hanging above his head, US officials are not threatening him or his family, and the citizens of the United States did not gasp out of concern for his safety. In fact, many citizens and fellow athletes are hoping that his criticism will lead to positive change.

This Olympic cycle many conservatives have been understandably upset at US athletes who are protesting our flag and nation and have thus called for a boycott of the Olympics and these athletes. But as I so often say, we should be careful about what we wish for. Do we want to censor every representative of the United States? Are we calling for specific censorship if we ask for them to be silenced or kicked off the Olympic team? Let me explain that I don’t support these athletes and don’t plan to in the future. But I do say, let them stand up there and show the absolute hypocrisy and ignorance of the protests they have against our nation. Because while they think they are showing how awful this country is, they are actually showing the world how free the citizens of the United States are. Only in a truly free country can you protest the government or nation and not fear the dictatorial repercussions that Tsimanouskaya or others like her face. To the world, these woke athletes demonstrate the flag as a symbol of freedom. That is why our flag is flown in Cuba and Hong Kong, because we are a beacon of freedom to the world.

But let us also not forget, even with these public demonstrations where American Olympians kneel in the face of our flag, we also have American Olympians who wrap themselves in the stars and stripes with beaming pride. We have a swimmer who endearingly cries during the National Anthem, and a wrestler who smiles ear to ear reveling in what a true honor it is to be an American and “I freakin love living there.” I hazard to guess that most of our athletes love or at least respect the country they represent and the resources it has given them to compete. We cannot have joyous patriotism without the wokeness in a truly free nation.



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