The International Olympic Commission has taken a courageous stand on athelete’s ability to express themselves politically at the Tokyo Games, delayed by COVID19 restrictions. After consulting with some 3,500 Olympic atheletes the IOC Rule 50 was affirmed that the games MUST remain politically neutral adhering to the tradition of international cooperation and competition.
The Daily Mail reports,
“Taking a knee during the Tokyo Olympics or lifting a fist in support of racial equality will be punished as the International Olympic Committee on Wednesday maintained its ban on athletes’ protests inside stadiums, at ceremonies and on podiums.
The IOC’s Rule 50 forbids any kind of ‘demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda’ in venues and any other Olympic area and the Games body concluded the rule should be maintained following an athlete consultation.”
Athletes Agree: No Room For Politics On Olympic Field
The IOC’s Athletes’ Commission chief Kirsty Coventry led the consultation with 3,547 Olympic atheletes from 185 countries, Coventry herself is a former Olympic swimming chammpion from Zimbabwe. She told the atheletes in a presentation “I would not want something to distract from my competition and take away from that. That is how I still feel today,” According to Coventry, that is a sentiment held by about 70% of the competing atheletes, the majority agreeing they were against any protests within the fields of play or the podiums.
The IOC Rule 50 Guidelines provide a non-exhaustive list of examples of what constitutes a “protest” as opposed to merely “expressing views”
• Displaying any political messaging, including signs or armbands
• Gestures of a political nature, like a hand gesture or kneeling
• Refusal to follow the Ceremonies protocol.
Asked if medalists who raised their fist or took a knee at the podium (a la’ Tommie Smith & John Carlos’ famous Black Power Fists in 1968, or the NFL’s Colin Kaepernick) would be punished Director Coventry answered bluntly “Yes that is correct”.
According to The Guardian, Director Coventry the IOC’s legal team is working on proportionate responses to any infractions.
“I’m a not a lawyer so that is a little bit out of my realm,” she said. “We’re asking the Legal Affairs Commission commission to come up with a proportionate range of different sanctions so that everyone knows, going into going into a Games, what they can and cannot do.”