International Olympic Committee Changes Course on Protest Rule

By: Alyssa Wilson

The International Olympic Committee will let Olympic athletes make gestures of protest on their field of play at the Tokyo Olympics. This is a change from Rule 50 which banned “any demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda” in venues and other areas of the Olympics.  

RELATED: Athletes Who Take a Knee During Tokyo Olympics Will Be Punished  

On July 2, the IOC released Rule 50.2, known as Guidelines for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. It is meant to provide “further clarity and guidance to athletes competing in Tokyo this summer on the wide range of opportunities available to them to express their views, including on the Field of Play prior to the start of the competition.” 

RELATED: Dr. John Carlos, Who Raised a Fist During 1968 Olympics, Reacts to Olympic Ban on Protests  

Olympic athletes have the opportunity to express their views in the following areas:  

  • Mixed zones, including when speaking to media  
  • International Broadcasting Centre or the Main Media Centre 
  • During press conferences in the venue or Main Media Centre 
  • During interviews 
  • Team Meetings  
  • Traditional media or digital media 
  • Social Media  
  • On the field of play before the start of the competition  

The guidelines also state that athletes expressing their views are expected to respect Olympic rules and values as well as their fellow athletes. “It should be recognised that any behaviour and/or expression that constitutes or signals discrimination, hatred, hostility or the potential for violence on any basis whatsoever is contrary to the Fundamental Principles of Olympism,” the rules read.  

RELATED: Hammer Thrower Gwen Berry Turns Back to American Flag During National Anthem  

Displaying acts of protest are not allowed on the podium at medal ceremonies. Athletes will still face disciplinary action for not abiding by the rules set by the IOC.  

RELATED: England’s Football Association Denounces Racist Attack on Its Black Players  

The British women’s soccer team is set to take a knee before kickoff at the Olympics. The players have taken a stance against racism over the last year and the Black members of the men’s soccer team recently faced racial abuse online. “It is the people that don’t have a voice that we are standing up for,” Demi Stokes said. “We know we have a big part to play. It’s important we use our platforms to help in any way we can.”  

 The Tokyo Olympics are set to begin on July 23 and run until August 8. The city is under a state of emergency as Japan has seen a rise in COVID-19 infections. No spectators will be allowed at the arena to watch the games and athletes must follow strict safety protocols.  

RELATED: Tokyo Under State of Emergency, Spectators Not Allowed at Olympics 

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