A chiropractor working with Team USA’s wrestling team apologized for comparing the coronavirus protocols in place at Tokyo 2020 to Nazi Germany.
Her posts were flagged by two social media platforms for spreading misinformation and were swiftly removed after the Associated Press notified the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) of the nature of the comments.
“We went from ‘Flattening the curve in 14 days’ to ‘Going door-to-door to see your papers’ … Gotta admit, I did N-A-Z-I that one coming,” Rosie Gallegos-Main posted on her Facebook and Instagram profiles last week.
In a letter addressed to the U.S.A. Wrestling Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee on Wednesday, Gallegos-Main apologized for her “poor judgment and my choice to share this message.”
The chiropractor, who is at her third Olympics with Team USA, added that her comment was meant to highlight “coercion by authorities,” rather than mock the ordeal Jewish people experienced under the Nazi regime.
“I now see that these are linked and can’t be separated,” she wrote. “I will never use this word again in any form that does not have a proper foundation for its usage, such as in a history lesson or in educating people about the past.
“I’m deeply saddened by this and wish to apologize for my poor judgment and my choice to share this message. I am also sorry that this may have been a distraction for the delegation which should be focused on supporting our athletes to the best of our ability.”
Gallegos-Main, who isn’t part of the accredited U.S. delegation in Tokyo, has been working with Team USA’s wrestling team since 2009 and will be allowed to finish her stay at the team’s pre-Olympic camp in Japan.
Social Media Posts Condemned
In a strongly-worded statement issued on Wednesday, the USOPC condemned both social media posts.
“The USOPC does not condone or tolerate any behavior that intentionally offends or attacks others,” it said.
“The post that this volunteer shared is completely inconsistent with our values and we made this clear to her as soon as we became aware of it.”
The USOPC added Gallegos-Main will undergo diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) training.
“As shown through her prompt removal of the share and her apology, she has shown clear remorse and committed to an educational process with DE&I experts,” the statement continued.
“The USOPC will work with USA Wrestling to see that she gets that educational resource and understands our organization’s shared global purpose of building a better, more inclusive world through sport.”
Approximately 22,000 athletes, coaches and media have traveled to Japan for the Olympics and are living under strict COVID protocols, which includes daily testing and mandatory masks.
Strict COVID Protocols in Place
Athletes have to eat alone and can’t speak to teammates, coaches or fellow athletes in enclosed spaces.
By Wednesday, the organizers had reported 79 cases of coronavirus in Japan linked with the Games, while several other athletes had tested positive at home and were unable to travel.
As of Thursday morning, Japan had reported just over 853,000 cases of the coronavirus and more than 15,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.
While the death tally from coronavirus is relatively contained compared to other nations, Japan has been hampered by a slow vaccine rollout. Japanese authorities said on Monday that 21.6 percent of the country’s 126 million population had been fully vaccinated.
Speaking on Wednesday, the head of the World Health Organization acknowledged it was impossible to completely eliminate the risk posed by the coronavirus and that the Tokyo Olympics shouldn’t be judged by how many COVID cases arise.
“The mark of success is making sure that any cases are identified, isolated, traced and cared for as quickly as possible and onward transmission is interrupted,” WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told an International Olympic Committee meeting.