WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- The International Olympic Committee on Thursday published a new set of guidelines telling athletes at the upcoming 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan that they are barred from protesting on the field, on the medal stand or in the Olympic Village.
- The new Rule 50 Guidelines say that prohibited acts of protest include “gestures of a political nature, like a hand gesture or kneeling.”
- The IOC added that athletes will be allowed to express their opinions on digital or traditional media, or on other platforms or while being interviewed.
The International Olympic Committee on Thursday distributed a new set of guidelines that bars athletes participating in the upcoming 32nd Olympics in Tokyo, Japan from using the world stage for political protests.
The guidelines say no political displays like signs and armbands, no gestures “of a political nature” — including taking a knee or making hand gestures, like a raised fist — and no refusing to follow protocol at Olympic ceremonies or “on the field of play,” the three-page new Rule 50 Guidelines said.
The documents don’t specify what the sanctions will be for those who violated the guideline, saying only “disciplinary action will be taken on a case-by-case basis.”
“We believe that the example we set by competing with the world’s best while living in harmony in Olympic Village is a uniquely positive message to send to an increasingly divided world,” the IOC said.
“This is why it is important, on both a personal and global level, that we keep the venues, the Olympic Village and the podium neutral and free from any form of political, religious or ethnic demonstrations.”
In the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, American sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos each raised a fist on the medal podium during the national anthem in a shout-out to the civil rights movement.
In the United States, the National Football League in 2018 began requiring players to stand during the anthem after dozens of athletes began kneeling in 2016 to protest racism in the country.
But the IOC’s new guidelines come after protests closer to home — in international competition.
According to the New York Post, two American athletes were put on probation for a year after protests at the Pan-American Games in Peru last August — fencer Race Imboden, for kneeling, and hammer thrower Gwen Berry, for raising a fist.
Also in 2019, Australian and British swimmers refused to take the medal podium with Chinese gold medalist Sun Yang because of doping allegations against Yang.
And in 2016, Ethiopian marathoner Feyisa Lilesa crossed his wrists at the finish line in solidarity with demonstrators in his home country.
“We needed clarity and they wanted clarity on the rules,” said Kirsty Coventry, chairman of the IOC Athletes Commission. “The majority of athletes feel it is very important that we respect each other as athletes.”
Source: New York Post