BMX Freestyle rider Chelsea Wolfe, a transgender athlete who qualified as an alternate for the Tokyo Olympic Games this summer, posted on Facebook last year that she wanted to snag a medal “so I can burn a US flag on the podium.”
The March 25, 2020, post read: “My goal is to win the Olympics so I can burn a US flag on the podium. This is what they focus on during a pandemic. Hurting trans children.”
Her comment was made in response to a news story about Trump’s administration’s stance on transgender athletes.
Wolfe’s post has since been deleted.
Ranked third behind Hannah Roberts and Perris Benegas, Wolfe will only get to compete if one of the others has to drop out, ESPN stated.
According to FOX News, she is the second transgender athlete to qualify for the Olympic Games.
On June 12, she posted on Instagram: “I searched for so long trying to find out if there had ever been a professional trans bmx rider to show me that who I am would be okay and unfortunately I found no one. Eventually I started to meet some amazing women who helped me accept that I am a woman just like any other and that I deserve a place to exist in the world just like everyone else.”
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) policy has allowed transgender athletes to compete since 2016 under very specific rules, including that the athlete has to have a total testosterone level below a certain level for at least a year before her first competition.
Transgender athletes are not required to legally change their gender or undergo gender reassignment surgery to be deemed eligible to compete, but they are required to sign a declaration of their identity and they can’t change their status for a minimum of four years.
Wolfe defended her post, stating that it didn’t mean that she didn’t care about the country, FOX News stated.
“Anyone who thinks that I don’t care about the United States is sorely mistaken. One of the reasons why I work so hard to represent the United States in international competition is to show the world that this country has morals and values, that it’s not all of the bad things that we’re known for,” she said. “I take a stand against fascism because I care about this country and I’m not going to let it fall into the hands of fascists after so many people have fought and sacrificed to prevent fascism from taking hold abroad.”
She added: “As a citizen who wants to be proud of my home country, I’m sure as hell not going to let it take hold here.”
In December 2020, the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) announced that it was not going to take action against the athletes who raised a fist or took a knee at the Tokyo Games even though their action was prohibited under Rule 50 in the Olympic Charter.
Despite calls for the IOC to lift their ban on political protest during official Olympic events and on the podium, IOC officials doubled-down on the decision and specifically banned Black Lives Matter apparel and signs.
UPDATE: Snopes has rated Chelsea Wolfe’s alleged statement about wanting to burn the US flag on the podium as “unproven.” Chelsea has neither confirmed nor denied being the author of the alleged Facebook post. More here: https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/olympian-chelsea-wolfe-flag/
Sources: The Police Tribune