Olympics Ban ‘Black Lives Matter’ Clothing, May Punish Athletes For Social Events

AUSTIN (KXAN) – The postponed 2020 Summer Olympics are only 80 days away from being held in Tokyo amid the coronavirus pandemic. It will be an Olympics like no other – without international fans.

Athletes will have to pass a battery of COVID-19 nasal tests and are just a positive result far from ruining years of hard work and training.

Millions of eyes will be on the Games around the world. It is a formidable step, both for athletic triumph and perhaps for social change. Who can forget this image of Americans Tommie Smith and John Carlos with their fists raised during the 1968 Olympics in protest against racism.

American athletes Tommie Smith (C) and John Carlos (R) raise their gloved fists in the Black Power salute to express their opposition to racism in the United States during the American national anthem, after receiving their medals on October 17, 1968 for first and third place in the men’s 200m at the Olympic Games in Mexico City. On the left, Peter Norman of Australia took second. (AFP photo via Getty Images)

But the Olympics continue to ban athlete demonstrations and could still punish athletes who choose to protest. This means raising a fist or kneeling during the national anthem, as many professional American athletes have done over the past year, risks punishment.

These athletes could even be sent home.

IOC bans “Black Lives Matter” equipment

The International Olympic Committee has become very specific with what is not allowed. He specifically said that the slogan “Black Lives Matter” would be banned on athlete clothing at the Summer Olympics.

This is part of the IOC’s long-standing ban on “political, religious or racial manifestation or propaganda” on the playing field, the medal stand or during official Games ceremonies.

More generic words such as “peace”, “respect”, “solidarity”, “inclusion” and “equality” will be allowed on t-shirts.

So far, the IOC has not clarified what types of penalties athletes could face for breaking these rules. He only said he would deal with each violation on a case-by-case basis.

Players from the United States wear a sweater with the slogan “Black Lives Matter” and most kneel down as the national anthem is played before the international women’s football friendly between the Netherlands and the United States. at Rat Verlegh Stadium in Breda, Southern Netherlands, Friday November 27, 2020 (Dean Mouhtaropoulos / Pool via AP)

IOC says majority of athletes support ban on protests

The IOC Athletes’ Commission cited support for compliance with Rule 50 of the Olympic Charter of more than two-thirds of some 3,500 responses from groups of athletes consulted. The IOC said that 70% of the athletes surveyed did not think it was appropriate to protest during the competition, and 67% said it was not appropriate at the medal stand either.

Athletes who break rule 50 may be sanctioned by three bodies: the IOC, their sport’s governing body and their National Olympic Committee (NOC).

The US Olympic and Paralympic Committee pledged in December not to sanction athletes for demonstrating peacefully during the Olympic trials.

Many governing bodies from different Olympic sports have also said they will not punish athletes for protesting, including World Athletics, the global governing body for athletics.

Nonprofits pledge to support athletes and push for ‘Rule 50’ reform

Many groups have pledged legal support to the protesting athletes. The World Players Association union said the IOC’s decision was a decision it expected.

“Any athlete sanctioned at the Tokyo Olympics will have the full support of the World Players,” said Brendan Schwab, executive director of the union.

And the Global Athlete group also released a statement, urging athletes “not to let outdated ‘sports rules’ take precedence over your basic human rights.”

Noah Hoffman is heavily involved with Global Athlete. He is a two-time Olympian, having competed in cross-country skiing competitions in Sochi in 2014 and PyeongChang in 2018. While he really enjoyed his two Olympic experiences, he told Nexstar’s Andrew Marden that he firmly believes that ‘it was time to’ raise the voice of the international athlete.

“We envision an Olympics where the athletes are the center of the show, more than the host country or the politics around them or the sponsors,” Hoffman said. “It’s this huge show where the athletes are an afterthought.”

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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