A Myanmar swimmer surrenders his Olympic dreams — all to protest its military

Wednesday, July 28, 2021 - 4:33pm


Myanmar has never won a medal — gold or otherwise — at the Olympics. One athlete who hoped to change that is 27-year-old Win Htet Oo, a swimmer who qualified for the games in Tokyo. But he won’t be there. Win Htet Oo refuses to compete under a flag that is, in his words, “steeped in my people’s blood.” Six months ago, the military in Myanmar staged a coup, killing nearly 1,000 civilians and locking up thousands more — including elected officials. In seizing power over the country, the military also took control of its national Olympic committee — meaning athletes must cooperate with the regime to reach the games. Win Htet Oo spoke to The World’s Patrick Winn.