Members of the United States' Olympic fencing team wore pink face masks in support of women's right.
The bright pink masks are also understood to be in protest of fellow United States fencer Alen Hadzic, who has been accused of sexual misconduct himself.
Curtis McDowald, Jake Hoyle and Yeisser Ramirez all wore the distinctive face masks before the competition kicked-off in Tokyo, while their teammate Hadzic - the man accused of sexual misconduct - did not.
Instead, McDowald handed Hadzic a standard all-black mask while he stood awkwardly next to his teammates.
Hadzic didn't actually end up competing on the day but used his time in the spotlight to slam his fellow compatriots after the event.
"They never asked me for my side of the story," he told USA Today.
"They never asked for evidence or how I felt.
"I just remember thinking it would be kind of silly if I stood out there with a black mask and I asked them if they had an extra pink one, and they go, "Oh, no.'"
"It wasn't really until I saw that picture from the outside view that I realised what was going on.
"I just told Hoyle I was frankly embarrassed to be his teammate. I was embarrassed to stand up there with him."
I don't actively root against athletes at the Olympics, but I hope Alen Hadzic fails spectacularly.- Joanne O' Riordan (@JoanneOR_Ox) July 25, 2021
The only man not wearing a pink mask is Alen Hadzic, the epee team's alternate who's under investigation for sexual assault by several former and current fencing teammates- Brianna Sacks (@bri_sacks) July 30, 2021
Though he did not compete, the FIE introduces both teams before a bout, and he's part of Team USA https://t.co/s98Tzr9aJl
USA Men's epee team wearing pink masks in support of sexual assault survivors & in protest of Alen Hadzic (black mask) who is under investigation for multiple assaults & on a "safety plan" at the Olympics to keep women safe.- Brenda Tracy (@brendatracy24) July 31, 2021
This is the energy men need to have with each other. pic.twitter.com/9x50D3YD6S
Hadzic has been officially barred from the Olympic Village in Tokyo following the serious allegations and sent to stay in a different hotel altogether.
He was also ordered to fly to Japan two days after his American teammates and told him not to mingle withy them.
These strict guidelines come after Hadzic accused of sexual misconduct from three seperate women over incidents that allegedly occurred between 2013 ad 2019 while he was a student at Columbia University.
The 29-year-old was initially found guilty of the claims and was suspended by the US Center for SafeSport.
Hadzic immediately fired a lawyer and wasted no time in launching an immediate appeal and his ban was subsequently overturned.
The arbitrator overseeing the case ruled: "I do not find it likely that Hadzic's continued participation would be detrimental to the reputation of the United States or his sport.
"For these reasons, I find that the temporary suspension is lifted as not warranted by the facts and circumstances of the allegations."
#TeamUSA men's epee team wore pink masks for their opening match at the Olympics as a show of support for sexual assault victims. Alen Hadzic- their teammate accused of rape and sexual assault- is on the left. Kudos to the team for taking a stand. #BelieveWomen pic.twitter.com/yRI4azelKN- Ibtihaj Muhammad (@IbtihajMuhammad) July 30, 2021
But despite being named on Team USA, it seems people don't plan on suddenly forget the allegations made against Hadzic anytime soon.
Hadzic's name has been a topic of conversation throughout the duration of the Tokyo Olympics with countless fans condemning the United States' decision to bring him to Tokyo.
And even before the Games began, USA Fencing's official Instagram account posted a picture of Hadzic after his unveiling, but the comments section was bombarded with people calling him a "rapist".
American sabre fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad heaped praise on the other Team USA members for taking a stand against Hadzic and supporting women's right.
She tweeted: "Team USA men's epee team wore pink masks for their opening match at the Olympics as a show of support for sexual assault victims. Alen Hadzic - their teammate accused of rape and sexual assault - is on the left. Kudos to the team for taking a stand. #BelieveWomen".
Despite initially being suspended during his college days, Hadzic has never been criminally charged with rape or any sexual misconduct.
Featured Image Credit: Twitter/Ch7
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