An African American skater on the U.S. Olympic team is angry about the results of a coin toss that was used to decide whether he, or a white female skater, would represent the U.S. in the opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympics this week in Peyongchang, South Korea.
In a Thursday tweet, champion speed skater Shani Davis — who is black —injected race into the coin flip decision over which athlete would carry the U.S. flag during the opening ceremonies.
Earlier this week, U.S. Luger Erin Hamlin — who is white — was chosen to carry the flag from among a group of U.S athletes. However, Davis, who was also one of the finalists, included the hashtag #BlackHistoryMonth2018 in a tweet. After listing several of his accomplishments, which he believes, should have made him the flag-bearer.
“I am an American and when I won the 1000m in 2010 I became the first American to 2-peat in that event. @TeamUSA dishonorably tossed a coin to decide its 2018 flag bearer. No problem. I can wait until 2022,” he wrote on February 8.
I am an American and when I won the 1000m in 2010 I became the first American to 2-peat in that event. @TeamUSA dishonorably tossed a coin to decide its 2018 flag bearer. No problem. I can wait until 2022. #BlackHistoryMonth2018 #PyeongChang2018 pic.twitter.com/dsmTtNkhJs
— Shani Davis (@ShaniDavis) February 8, 2018
Davis’ status as an American and his accomplishments as an Olympian, are not in dispute. Though, one has to wonder why he included the Black History Month hashatg, in his tweet. Unless of course, Davis is alleging race played a factor in the decision.
If he is, this might be the first racially-motivated coin toss in the history of the Olympics.
Hamlin and Davis were among eight athletes being considered to carry the flag in the opening ceremony, ESPN reported. But the voting for the finalist deadlocked between the final two athletes and as previously agreed upon by all participants a coin toss was used to break the tie. That coin toss went Hamlin’s way. But on the day after the announcement of Hamlin’s selection, it appears that Davis is unhappy with the results and feels he is more entitled to carry the flag than Hamlin.
As ESPN noted, Davis has a history of throwing tantrums, and this is not the first time he has caused an Olympic controversy.
“In 2006, Davis — the first African-American to win an individual gold medal at a Winter Games — decided not to take part in the team pursuit at the Turin Games and raised the ire of teammate Chad Hedrick,” ESPN reported. “Their animosity toward each other was obvious at a news conference, when Hedrick brought up the team pursuit and Davis stormed out of the room.”
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.