By Paul B. Skousen, former Reagan White House intelligence officer, and author of The Naked Socialist, and How to Read the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence
The Preamble of the 2016 Olympic Code of Ethics makes it clear the Olympics are fully intended to be apolitical from start to finish. And such ethics are applied to everyone involved—from administrators to judges to broadcasters, and to the athletes themselves.
This is important for an American skier who today stands in violation of those ethics.
On December 7, 2017, US Ski Team member Lindsey Vonn told a CNN reporter, “Well I hope to represent the people of the United States, not the president.” She went on to say she wouldn’t go to the White House if she was invited. “Absolutely not,” she said.
Her well-published partisan statements are not without precedent in recent Olympics history. Among others, the most egregious for the U.S. was in 1968.
Two American sprinters, Tommie Smith and John Carlos, won gold and bronze medals, respectively, for the 200 meter sprint. On the medals platform, each altered his official team uniform to show symbols of political protest, and during the anthem, each of them raised a gloved fist in the air.
International Olympic Committee president Avery Brundage deplored their “outrageous stance,” they were stripped of their medals, and banned from the games. A spokesman said their actions were “a deliberate and violent breach of the fundamental principles of the Olympic spirit.”
Do Vonn’s partisan pre-games statements rise to the level of Smith and Carlos’ public protests?
Article 1.1 states that participants should exhibit “… a spirit of friendship, solidarity …” Vonn has already insulted hundreds of athletes from around the world who respect President Trump but wisely keep personal political opinions to themselves. Because of this, Vonn’s performance or lack thereof will forever be tainted in the minds of her fellow athletes and millions of viewers.
Article 1.2 makes it clear that athletes must show “Respect … and political neutrality of the Olympic Movement.” Lindsey Vonn fails on this standard as she is now known as the athlete who brought volatile and controversial US partisan politics into 2018 Olympics.
Article 1.3 admonishes athletes to respect the host country: “Maintaining harmonious relations with state authorities …” Lindsey Vonn’s comments show disrespect to South Korean President Moon Jae-in, the hosting state authority, who demonstrably has a close, friendly and supportive relationship with President Trump and the United States.
Article 1.4 demands the athletes reject “… discrimination of any kind on whatever grounds, be it … political or other opinion …” Lindsey Vonn is blatantly discriminating against a head of state, Pres. Trump, by attempting to separate the United States’ constitutionally-elected leader from the nation that elected him, for partisan political reasons.
Article 2 requires athletes to “… act with impartiality, objectivity, independence and professionalism.” This ethics code most strongly applies to the Olympic-event judges. But, as the Preamble states, impartiality and professionalism is also required of the athletes, a standard Vonn failed to achieve.
The second clause of Article 2 admonishes athletes to “… refrain from any act … likely to tarnish the reputation of the Olympic Movement.” Many millions of Americans and others who have heard of Vonn’s politically-biased comment will be measuring her performance in terms of “the skier who hates Trump.”
When the final list of Olympic medals is recorded, should there be a medal won by Vonn, it must include an asterisk denoting hers was acquired in violation of the Olympics’ sincere promotion of peace and good will for all the world’s people. This is a standard for which the Olympics firmly stands—and doesn’t kneel.