GOP Rep. Matt Rosendale of Montana told Newsmax that the American people want to see Olympic athletes compete during the games, but not see them protest the very nation that sent them.
''When the American people look at the Olympic games, all they want to see is the competition,'' Rosendale said during ''Spicer & Co.'' Friday night. ''If you look back at 1980 when the men's U. S hockey team won against the Russians, the 'Miracle on Ice,' there was such a showing of patriotism across the nation, an outpouring of it, and pride.
"That's what we want to see. People right now want to watch our athletes compete against the rest of the world, and we want to see them be victorious. But once they are victorious, we want them to be as proud of America as we are of them. America has lifted more people out of poverty and oppression than any other country on earth, and we've asked nothing in return, and so we should be proud of that.''
To that end, Rosendale and a group of fellow lawmakers sent a letter to the International Olympic Committee on Monday and asked it to enforce Rule 50, which bans athletes from making political or religious protests or statements while participating in the games.
The letter comes in response to Team USA track and field athlete Gwen Berry who finished third in the hammer throw during U.S. Olympic trials last month, and then turned away from the flag, and covered her head during the national anthem.
Berry’s actions drew backlash and calls for her to be removed from the team before going to the summer Olympic games in Tokyo.
Although she said she was ''set up'' because she was told the anthem would only be played either before or after her medal ceremony, she said that she did not ''hate'' the U.S.
"I never said that I didn't want to go to the Olympic Games," Berry said in a USA Today story from June. "I never said that I hated the country. All I said was I respect my people enough to not stand or acknowledge something that disrespects them. I love my people point blank, period."
Rosendale said he doesn’t expect to hear back from the committee regarding the letter but hopes it will live up to its own regulations and enforce them should athletes conduct themselves that way during the games.
''We have not heard back from the committee at this point, and as long as they uphold their own rules, then I don't need to hear back from the committee. If they don't uphold their rules, then that is a point where I'm going to go back to my other colleagues and see if we can find any place where the Olympic committee is receiving, and these athletes are receiving, additional privileges, whether it is tax code, or any other area that maybe they need to be revoked. At this point, I'm trying to just give them some incentive to encourage them to conduct their affairs properly.''
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