Trigger Warning: Discussion of sexual assault.
Alen Hadzic, a fencer on the men’s US Olympic team, should’ve never been allowed to participate in the Tokyo Olympics. The fact that he was shows how broken this system is and how much it doesn’t care to protect and believe in their female athletes. According to Buzzfeed News, Hadzic is under investigation for at least three accusations of sexual misconduct. And these were concerns that were reported on July 23, 2021, meaning they could’ve told Hadzic, “Sorry, not sorry. You can’t participate in the Tokyo Olympics because you have sexual assault allegations against you.”
Instead the complete opposite happened and he was allowed to participate in the Tokyo Olympics with a couple conditions that favor him and put those accusing him on the back-burner, as if they don’t matter or aren’t really at risk. The USA Fencing group created a “safety plan” intended to keep a man accused of sexual assault away from women teammates. This plan includes him being forbidden from traveling with his teammates, staying in separate accommodations outside of the Olympic Village, and practicing with any women. And it’s complete bullshit that they’re treating him with kid gloves.
Sha’Carri Richardson tested positive for marijuana and she was slapped with a suspension that made it impossible for her to attend the Tokyo Olympics. And this is someone who absolutely destroyed her competition in the 100 meter race. She’s the best of the best, unlike Hadzic who is an alternate. But a little bit of marijuana and her dreams were crushed by the Olympic Committee. Allowing Hadzic to participate in the Tokyo Olympics while facing sexual assault allegations, and then disallowing Richardson for marijuana use, shows a system that favors mediocre white men.
Protecting Hadzic also feels like a slap in the face to the female athletes at the Tokyo Olympics. It doesn’t matter if they’ve made accusations against Hadzic for violating their bodies. No, that doesn’t matter at all, because an alternate needs to be available for the US Team at the Tokyo Olympics. And it’s a clear sign that systems that oppress women and favor men are still alive and kicking within the US sports federations. Because something like this shouldn’t be allowed to happen. The priority should be to protect and believe women instead of creating a “safety plan” to keep a predator separate, while allowing him to participate.
This whole situation with Hadzic is made even worse when you take into consideration that the US Olympic Committee would rather spend extra money to send an alternate to the Tokyo Olympics and keep him separate from women instead of just believing women and not allowing him to participate in the first place. What Hadzic deserves is complete exclusion from the Tokyo Olympics and any other competitions until the investigation into these sexual assault allegations are worked through. Because his teammates — Jake Hoyle, Curtis McDowald, and Yeisser Ramirez — wearing pink in protest of him isn’t enough. It matters that they took a stand, but true justice for women means consequences for men who violate others.
Hadzic should’ve never been allowed to attend the Tokyo Olympics and the longer we continue to allow mediocre men like him to glide through life, despite sexual assault allegations, the longer it’ll take to create real change that protects and believes women.