Gabby Douglas says she “meant no disrespect” and apologized if anyone was offended by a gesture she did not make as she and the U.S. women’s gymnastics team received their gold medals and listened to the national anthem on the podium at the Rio Olympics on Tuesday night.
Douglas was peppered with critical tweets when, unlike the rest of the Final Five after their team medal-winning performance, she did not place her hand over her heart as she stood at attention.
“In response to a few tweets I saw tonight, I always stand at attention out of respect for our country whenever the national anthem is played,” Douglas, a London Olympics darling after her gold medal performances, tweeted in part. “I never meant any disrespect and apologize if I offended anyone. I’m so overwhelmed at what our team accomplished today and overjoyed that we were able to bring home another gold for our country!”
There are no team rules for podium behavior, other than standing at attention and looking at the flag, and Douglas isn’t the first U.S. gold medal winner to not place her hand over her heart. See David Robinson, who served in the U.S. Navy, and the U.S. team in the photo below, for instance.
The national anthem is not the Pledge of Allegiance, but the U.S. Code for conduct during the playing of the song stipulates that all present except those in uniform should stand at attention facing the flag with the right hand over the heart. However, anyone who has been to, say, a Major League Baseball game, will tell you that that isn’t always followed.
Here’s a look at some of the tweets about Douglas:
Correction: An earlier version of this post stated the U.S. Code did not require putting your hand over your heart during the national anthem. That code was revised in 2008 to add the requirement.