Beach volleyball great Kerri Walsh Jennings faces backlash over mask refusal

Beach volleyball great Kerri Walsh Jennings faces backlash over mask refusal

Three-time Olympic beach volleyball champion Kerri Walsh Jennings has received backlash on social media after saying she did not wear a mask in public.

On Sunday, Walsh Jennings wrote on Instagram that she had not worn a facemask, something that is widely acknowledged to prevent the spread of Covid-19, during a shopping trip as part of “a little exercise in being brave”.

She added: “I read a quote the other day that shook me – – THIS HAS NOT BEEN ENFORCED, IT’S BEEN CONSENTED TO. This statement woke me up & the truth of it has had me obsessing on the matter of how I can mindfully & compassionately stand up for my rights & for the freedoms our constitution has granted us all WITHOUT being reckless or putting anyone else in danger.”

One of Walsh Jennings’ followers on Instagram wrote: “I’m a nurse and all healthcare workers are reusing PPE and we don’t have routine access to testing. We put ourselves at risk daily to care for patients the least that everyone else can do is social distance and wear a mask in public.” Other followers also expressed their disquiet at Walsh Jennings’ statement.

On Monday, Walsh Jennings posted again alongside an image of a white flag.

View this post on Instagram

My goodness gracious. To those I’ve upset so deeply, I am sorry. To those who are open to hearing where I am coming from, I appreciate your openness and civility. To those in agreement, I appreciate you expressing your views. To those calling me dumb, selfish, privileged, bigoted, and racist and telling me that “you are better than this”, I fully acknowledge that addressing such an emotional, layered, nuanced and polarizing topic on social media was not the smartest thing …. pages and pages could be written about every side of everyone’s opinion, yet I went for it because I am alarmed for my country – I am heartbroken for my children – I am devastated for every small business owner who has gone under or who is barely hanging on – I have seen so much conflicting and erroneous data from the experts – and on and on and on – I have researched and I have spoken with experts …. This is why I spoke my point of view. At some point we should all stop and take inventory of everything that has been thrown our way over the past months and the reaction/ to these things. If it sits well or well enough with you, great. If not, great. We should all carry on RESPECTFULLY living our virtues, standing up for our beliefs and doing our best to do no harm in doing so. I was not looking to do anything but express my belief that FREEDOM IS RIGHT WORTH FIGHTING FOR, and amidst the chaos, divisiveness, fear and undeniable emotion of these times, I believe we have to stay mindful of the FACT that our freedoms have slowly been taken from us with our consent. I feel each of the words I mentioned above (fear/chaos/divisiveness) are being intentionally stoked and we are becoming a country that I do not recognize. The comment section of my last post is a reflection of where we are at and it is …. tragic. I’m not quite sure when we became a world where a differing opinion equates to evil and hatred, but here we are. I am not advocating for people to stop wearing masks. I wear a mask most often. I don’t believe in their efficacy unless it’s of a certain caliber, yet I wear them. I am advocating critical thinking and civility. I am advocating personal responsibility. Cont. below

A post shared by Kerri Walsh Jennings 🌹 (@kerrileewalsh) on

“I fully acknowledge that addressing such an emotional, layered, nuanced and polarizing topic on social media was not the smartest thing,” she wrote. “We should all carry on RESPECTFULLY living our virtues, standing up for our beliefs and doing our best to do no harm in doing so. I was not looking to do anything but express my belief that FREEDOM IS RIGHT WORTH FIGHTING FOR … I am not advocating for people to stop wearing masks. I wear a mask most often. I don’t believe in their efficacy unless it’s of a certain caliber, yet I wear them. I am advocating critical thinking and civility. I am advocating personal responsibility.”

Covid-19 has killed nearly 190,000 people in America and infected more than 6.3 million. Walsh Jennings’ home state of California has recorded the most cases in the US with 743,000 positive tests since the start of the pandemic.