If you were one of the millions of Americans who skipped the 2018 Winter Olympics opening ceremony Friday, you had company.
U.S. speedskater Shani Davis, who had publicly complained after losing out on the opportunity to be the flag-bearer for Team USA, decided not to show up for the event.
A panel of eight athletes voted on the honor, with four voting for Davis and the other four supporting veteran luger Erin Hamlin in her last Olympics.
That led to a coin toss, which Hamlin won.
Davis immediately tweeted that the process in which Hamlin earned the right to be flag bearer was done “dishonorably” and even hinted that it had racist undertones.
The gold medalist, who is black, used a hashtag mentioning Black History Month, seemingly a passive-aggressive way of questioning whether race played a role in Hamlin being chosen (she is white).
“I am an American and when I won the 1000m in 2010 I became the first American to 2-peat in that event,” he tweeted. “Team USA dishonorably tossed a coin to decide its 2018 flag bearer. No problem. I can wait until 2022.”
His stance drew plenty of criticism, including from U.S. luger Summer Britcher.
Although some, including the Rev. Jesse Jackson, defended Davis.
The choice to represent our country as #flagbearer in the @Olympics should never be determined by the flip of a coin. The Committee should immediately institute a more appropriate system to make such a significant determination. @ShaniDavis pic.twitter.com/OmR7C9o1GM
— Rev Jesse Jackson Sr (@RevJJackson) February 9, 2018
Davis changed his account to protected status, blocking potential followers and preventing anyone from seeing his tweets.
According to the Associated Press, a spokesman for U.S. Speedskating said Saturday that Davis had planned all along to skip the opening ceremony because of his training schedule but briefly reconsidered when he was nominated to be the flag-bearer.
Controversy does seem to follow the 35-year-old, who opted to train separately from the rest of Team USA.
For final tune-ups, the team was in Milwaukee, but Davis went to Germany.
Even coming to Korea was messy for Davis.
He said he was “so charged up and nervous” in boarding his flight that he confused his seating assignment. When another passenger pointed that out, Davis took offense.
There is no I in team. There is, however, an I in whiny, childish, immature, and disrespectful. https://t.co/kKIS0zOmZc
— Richard (@nowiknowmyabcs) February 9, 2018
“I felt he was being rude by the way he blurted to me I was wrong, and I responded to him something like, “Don’t be mean about it!!” Davis wrote. “People make mistakes, so of course he was laughing and I told him not to smile at me!! I couldn’t believe this situation I was in lol, but maybe this is that fire my skating has been missing?! If so the skate world better watch out!!”
This isn’t the first time that Davis has been at the center of a firestorm in the Olympics.
In 2006, after becoming the first black athlete to win an individual goal in the Winter Games, he withdrew from the team pursuit event, creating a battle of words with teammate Chad Hedrick.
We can only imagine what’s in store Tuesday, when Davis competes in the 1,500 meters. He’ll lace up the skates for the 1,000 on Feb. 23.