Fencing is one of those Olympic sports that most people don’t pay much attention to. In fairness, it’s not an easy sport to follow. Subtle movements and gestures that look like nothing can score. Couple that with the fact that fencing masks hide the athletes’ faces and you get a recipe for the opposite of a spectator sport.
Hell, as someone who practices historic sword fighting, it’s hard for me to follow. It’s worse for people with no background in any kind of fencing.
But, that lack of attention shifts a bit during the Olympic years. While most won’t watch Olympic fencing, they still want to know who won. That gives some an opportunity to try and make a statement.
Bronze medal-winning fencer Race Imboden expressed his support for fellow Team USA medalist Raven Saunders, while at the same time protesting gun violence and the IOC. Imboden posted a photo from his team foil medal ceremony with a circled X drawn on the back of his right hand.
“The X is a symbol of solidarity,” Imboden tweeted. “Some of the athletes communicated and decided upon this symbol to show solidarity for each other and support the oppressed. For me I personally wore the symbol as a demonstration against rule 50.” That IOC rule forbids protest or propaganda during the Olympics.
“In support of athletes of color,” Imboden continued, “Ending Gun violence, and all the athletes and who wish to use their voice on the platform they’ve earned. I also wish to draw attention to the hypocrisy of the IOC, and all of the organizations who profit so immensely off the athletes and have yet to hear their call for change.”
This isn’t the first time Imboden tried to protest multiple things at once, either.
Imboden has brought protest to the podium in the past. At the 2019 Pan-American Games, where the United States won the gold medal, Imboden took a knee on the podium:
Imboden indicated at the time that he was protesting in support of gun control and immigrants, and against racism and then-President Donald Trump. The United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee put him on probation for 12 months for the protest.
But “gun violence” wasn’t one of them.
Of course, we all know that “gun violence” protests really boil down to calls for gun control, which kind of seems hilarious from Imboden. I mean, this is a guy who we only know about because of a sport based on the techniques created to stab someone for dishonoring you.
Sure, the techniques evolved to what they are today, which has little basis on those historic techniques, but the roots are still there. It’s about trying to stab someone you don’t like.
And he’s protesting “gun violence.”
Of course, it’s possible that Imboden will catch another probation or even a suspension, but the Olympics are over. He’s not likely to lose any sleep over this. More than that, though, he’ll likely never bother to educate himself about firearms, gun rights, or apparently even the history of his sport.
As for his protest itself, who cares? It’s another ignorant athlete spouting off about stuff they don’t understand.