Chula Vista, CA – A transgender female athlete who qualified as an alternate to represent the United States at the Olympic Games in Tokyo this summer said last year that she wanted to win a medal “so I can burn a US flag on the podium.”
“My goal is to win the Olympics so I can burn a US flag on the podium,” BMX Freestyle rider Chelsea Wolfe posted to Facebook on March 25, 2020. “This is what they focus on during a pandemic. Hurting trans children.”
The comment was made above a link to a news story about then-President Donald Trump’s administration’s stance on transgender athletes, FOX News reported.
The post has since been deleted.
Wolfe is ranked third in the United States behind Hannah Roberts and Perris Benegas, so she’ll only compete if one of the first two has to drop out, ESPN reported.
She is only the second transgender athlete to qualify for the Olympic Games, FOX News reported.
“I searched for so long trying to find out if there had ever been a professional trans bmx rider to show me that who I am would be okay and unfortunately I found no one,” Wolfe posted to Instagram on June 12. “Eventually I started to meet some amazing women who helped me accept that I am a woman just like any other and that I deserve a place to exist in the world just like everyone else.”
International Olympic Committee (IOC) policy has permitted male-to-female transgender athletes to compete since 2016 under some very specific conditions that include having a total testosterone level below a specific measurement for at least a year before her first competition, the Daily Mail reported.
Transgender athletes don’t have to legally change their gender or have gender reassignment surgery in order to be eligible, but they do have to sign a declaration of their identity as female and then that status can’t be changed for a minimum of four years.
There are several other transgender women vying to represent their own countries in Tokyo this summer, but few have stirred up the kind of controversy that Wolfe did with her anti-American social media posts.
Wolfe defended posting about wanting to burn the American flag and said it didn’t mean that she didn’t care about the United States, FOX News reported.
“Anyone who thinks that I don’t care about the United States is sorely mistaken,” Wolfe said. “One of the reasons why I work so hard to represent the United States in international competition is to show the world that this country has morals and values, that it’s not all of the bad things that we’re known for.”
“I take a stand against fascism because I care about this country and I’m not going to let it fall into the hands of fascists after so many people have fought and sacrificed to prevent fascism from taking hold abroad,” the athlete continued. “As a citizen who wants to be proud of my home country, I’m sure as hell not going to let it take hold here.”
The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) announced in December of 2020 that it wouldn’t take action against athletes who raised a fist or took a knee at the Tokyo Games despite the fact it is prohibited under Rule 50 in the Olympic Charter.
The committee has not addressed flag burning.
Despite calls to abolish the rule that bans political protest as official Olympic events and on the podium, IOC officials recently doubled-down and specifically banned Black Lives Matter apparel and signs at the games.