Shani Davis said he’s “over” not being selected as the flag bearer for the United States and that skipping the Opening Ceremony may benefit him in the long run.
“It happened for the better, I probably needed the rest anyway,” Davis told Dutch newspaper Nederlandse Omroep Stichting (via Nick Zaccardi). “But you know, once every four years, my fifth Olympics, I thought it would be really special to hold the flag. I guess the USOC and other people thought differently.”
It was Davis’ first public comment since the American speedskating star tweeted criticism of the USOC for allowing a coin flip to decide whether he or luger Erin Hamlin led the American team into the stadium.
Davis attracted considerable criticism himself from teammates and fans over the comments, particularly because his inclusion of the hashtag #BlackHistoryMonth2018 seemingly implied the decision was a racial one.
Davis has since made his Twitter account private and skipped the Opening Ceremony, though his reps said that was always the plan for the five-time Olympian unless he was chosen to carry the flag.
An eight-member vote among the USOC’s winter sports commissions was split 4-4 between Davis, a four-time medalist and speedskating pioneer and Hamlin, a four-time Olympian and the first American to ever medal in luge. A coin toss was held to break the tie and Hamlin won.
Davis took to Twitter to air his displeasure:
“I am an American and when I won the 1000m in 2010 I became the first American to 2-peat in that event. @TeamUSA dishonorably tossed a coin to decide its 2018 flag bearer. No problem. I can wait until 2022. #BlackHistoryMonth2018 #PyeongChang2018”
After missing the Opening Ceremony, Davis tweeted again, this time in more general terms.
”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,” he wrote.
Davis, 35, is scheduled to race in the 1,500-meter final on Tuesday. He owns two Olympic silver medals in the event, having placed second at 2006 Turin and 2010 Vancouver.
The 1,000-meter event is scheduled for Friday, Feb. 23. Davis is the world record holder in the event and won gold in 2006 and 2010.
Davis did not medal in 2014 as the entire American team went home empty-handed and blaming the design of their suits. Davis told the Dutch newspaper that he will avoid that problem by designing his own suit for these Olympics.