CLOSE
US-MUSEUM-AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORY

Source: AFP / Getty

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) wants to mute any political statements by punishing those who carry out protests or demonstrations at the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo.

According to The Washington Post, the IOC published a three-page document of guidelines to outline Rule 50 of the International Olympic Charter, which reads in part, “No kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas.”

“We needed clarity, and they wanted clarity on the rules,” said Kirsty Coventry, chair of the IOC Athletes’ Commission, which helped create the three-page document. “The majority of athletes feel it is very important that we respect each other as athletes.”

Things that would be considered protests during the games or medal ceremonies includes displaying any political signs or armbands and gestures of a political nature such as kneeling.

If athletes fail to comply with the IOC’s rules, “each incident will be evaluated by their respective National Olympic Committee, International Federation and the IOC, and disciplinary action will be taken on a case-by-case basis as necessary.”

Though the Rule 50 guideline didn’t get specific about the “disciplinary action,” it could possibly include a wide spectrum of punishment such as a fine or athletes being sent home.

The rule immediately received backlash with many people viewing it as a silencing of oppression. “The decision to ban protests (which is common beyond the Olympics) reflects the whiteness of all major institutions,” one Twitter user wrote. “Thus proving the point that indeed nothing is neutral. What a privilege to not need to protest for your liberation. This is a racist policy.”

IOC President Thomas Bach defended the rules on Friday according to The Washington Post. “They (the Olympics) are not and must never be a platform to advance political or any other divisive ends,” he said. “Our political neutrality is undermined whenever organizations or individuals attempt to use the Olympic Games as a stage for their own agendas, as legitimate as they may be.”

Athletes have had a long tradition of pushing political messages for oppressed people. American sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos famously raised their gloved fists in support of Black power and solidarity at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City. Most recently, blackballed NFL player Colin Kaepernick also started kneeling in 2016 during the national anthem to protest police brutality. Even an international athlete like Feyisa Lilesa of Ethiopia crossed his wrists at the finish line of the men’s marathon at the 2016 Olympic Games to show solidarity with civil rights protestors in his home country. 

Time will tell if athletes will follow the rules in 2020 or continue to defy rules for an important cause.

NewsOne Radio

Our staff has picked their favorite stations, take a listen...

More From NewsOne