“The IOC AC is very concerned about the risk of politicisation of the athletes and the risk that athletes may be put under external pressure.”
The 2020 Summer Olympics kick off in 80 days in Tokyo, Japan, after the pandemic delayed it for a year.
A lot happened in the last year. Black Lives Matter shared the attention with COVID-19 after the murder of George Floyd in May 2020. But BLM supporters will not have an opportunity to showcase that support on the Olympic stage.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) banned athletes from wearing apparel with the slogan “Black Lives Matter.”
Athletes can wear shirts with generic words: peace, respect, solidarity, inclusion, and equality.
The IOC does not allow any “‘demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda’ on the playing field, the medal stand, or during the Games’ official ceremonies.
Athletes cannot protest, which means they cannot raise a fist or kneel during the national anthem:
“The IOC AC is very concerned about the risk of politicisation of the athletes and the risk that athletes may be put under external pressure,” the IOC said in a statement in April. “It is important to protect athletes from the potential consequences of being placed in a position where they may be forced to take a public position on a particular domestic or international issue, regardless of their beliefs.”
The Olympics did not provide details into the punishment, but going home is one option.
The IOC claimed athletes support these rules:
The IOC athletes’ commission cited support to uphold Rule 50 of the Olympic Charter from more than two-thirds of about 3,500 replies from consulting athlete groups. The IOC said 70% of athletes polled do not think it’s appropriate to demonstrate during competition, and 67% said it’s not appropriate either on the medal stand.
Athletes breaching Rule 50 can be sanctioned by three bodies: the IOC, their sport’s governing body, and their national Olympic committee (NOC).
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