Western Journalism Leading up to the 2016 Rio Olympics, swimmer Michael Phelps was elected by his teammates to be the flag bearer during the event’s highly anticipated Opening Ceremony. As the most decorated athlete in Olympic history, Phelps seemed to many like an obvious choice to carry Old Glory.
“I’m honored to be chosen, proud to represent the U.S., and humbled by the significance of carrying the flag and all it stands for,” Phelps said.
Just 24 hours away! ⏰https://t.co/afA85LUPgf
— U.S. Olympic Team (@TeamUSA) August 5, 2016
Despite being the pick of his fellow teammates, some are calling on Phelps to give up the honor and instead allow the runner-up to carry the flag.
Ibtihaj Muhammad, an African American Muslim woman famous for wearing her hijab during her fencing matches, came in a close second behind Phelps as the choice for flag bearer. Muhammad has also been outspoken against Republican presidential nominee, Donald Trump. “When you incite hateful speech and rhetoric like that, the people who say it never think about the repercussions and how that affects Muslims,” she told Time.
Multiple news outlets have run pieces from those calling on Phelps to withdraw from the position.
W. Kamau Bell, in op-ed for CNN addressed to Phelps, argued Muhammad, as a Muslim, would be a better choice than Phelps, a “tall, successful, rich white guy.”