Opening ceremony: USA's Davis skips event after flag bearer comments

By Alex Butler  |  Updated Feb. 9, 2018 at 2:16 PM
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Feb. 9 (UPI) -- Speed skater Shani Davis skipped Friday's Opening Ceremony in Pyeongchang, South Korea after voicing his disapproval of how Team USA chose its flag bearer.

Davis, 35, spoke out Thursday against the United States Olympic Committee's process of choosing the flag bearer for Friday's ceremony. Luger Erin Hamlin was eventually chosen for the honor after a coin toss. The original process for the role ended in a tie vote.

The men's speed skater said he will wait until 2022 to be Team USA's flag bearer. The five-time Olympian was nowhere to be seen on Friday at the Olympic Stadium in Daegwalnyeong, South Korea, while scores of American athletes trailed Hamlin at the opening ceremony.

Fellow speed skater Brian Hansen also skipped the event. A U.S. speed skating spokesman told NBC that Davis didn't plan on attending the ceremony to begin with and attending would have "altered" his training program. The spokesman added that Davis would have "reconsidered" attending the event after being nominated as an option to carry the American flag.

Multiple anonymous sources told USA Today that Davis would have attended the Opening Ceremony if Davis had been named the flag bearer.

"Team USA flag bearer is selected using a detailed selection procedure that is fully driven by athletes," U.S. Olympic Committee spokesman Mark Jones said Friday, according to NBC. "As is always the case, there were many worthy candidates for this year's honor."

Davis mentioned Black History Month in his tweet after criticizing the process used to choose the flag bearer. He mentioned Black History Month again with a tweet on Friday, while also posting a YouTube tribute describing the origins of the month.

"It has been such an honor to have represented the greatest, most diverse country in the world at the last five Winter Games during the same month as #blackhistorymonth #goTeamUSA Watch "Origins of Black History Month,'" Davis tweeted.

Davis became the first black athlete from any country to win an individual gold medal at the Winter Olympics when he won the 1000m gold at the 2006 Torino Winter Games.

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