Donald Trump has been roundly slammed for performing a racist gesture as he backflipped on his baseball boycott after a matter of months.
Former US President Donald Trump was spotted performing the controversial “Tomahawk Chop” cheer — denounced as a racist gesture by Native Americans — in support of the Atlanta Braves on Sunday (AEDT) while attending game four of baseball’s World Series.
Trump, who was booed when he attended a World Series game two years ago in Washington, joined thousands of Braves fans at Truist Park in Atlanta in making the chopping motion with his right arm before the team faced the Houston Astros in the best-of-seven Major League Baseball championship final.
Trump was seated in a suite down the rightfield line and was joined by his wife Melania in the cheer, which Native Americans have deplored as a racist insult to their culture and heritage, with some groups calling for it to be retired.
Racism targeting Native Americans hit home with MLB this year as the Cleveland Indians retired their nickname after years of complaints, and are now referred to as the Guardians.
But the “Tomahawk Chop” remains a popular gesture among sports fans.
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred backed it this week, saying Native Americans in the Atlanta area are “fully supportive of the Braves’ program, including the chop.”
“For me, that’s kind of the end of the story,” he said.
But National Council of American Indians president Fawn Sharp slammed Manfred’s comments, saying the group has repeatedly told the Braves that “Native people are not mascots and degrading rituals like the ‘Tomahawk Chop’ that dehumanise and harm us have no place in American society.”
The Trumps were joined in the suite by former Georgia college football star running back Herschel Walker, whose bid for a US Senate post from Georgia has been backed by the former president.
In his 2020 re-election bid, Trump narrowly lost the state of Georgia.
While US president in October 2019, he attended game five of the World Series in Washington and a chorus of boos broke out when his image was flashed on the stadium video display board.
Trump had called for a boycott of MLB after an April decision to move the MLB All-Star Game from Atlanta to Colorado in protest of restrictive voting laws passed by Georgia state lawmakers.
Ahead of the game, Trump claimed he had been invited to attend by the MLB, releasing a statement via mass email to his supporters.
“Looking forward to being at the World Series in Atlanta tonight,” he said.
“Thank you to the Commissioner of Baseball Rob Manfred, and Randy Levine of the New York Yankees, for the invite.
“Melania and I are looking forward to a wonderful evening watching two great teams!”
But the MLB said that wasn’t true and denied making such an invitation to the former president.
“He requested to attend the game,” it clarified in a statement.
Earlier in the week, Terry McGuirk, the CEO of the Atlanta Braves, said Trump had got in touch with the team asking for tickets.
“He called MLB and wanted to come to the game,’’ McGuirk reportedly said. “We were very surprised. Of course, we said yes.’’
Atlanta won the game 3-2 to move just one victory away from claiming the biggest trophy in world baseball.
Consecutive solo home runs in the seventh inning by Dansby Swanson and Jorge Soler got the Braves over the line in the low-scoring game.
The Braves now hold a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series as they strive for their first World Series title since 1995 in their first playoffs appearance since 1999.
The Astros meanwhile, are contesting their third World Series in five seasons and are seeking their first championship since 2017.
Game five will he held in Atlanta on Monday (AEDT).