Athletes banned from protest on the podiums at the Tokyo Olympics

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Athletes will be banned from protesting on podiums and sports grounds at the Tokyo Olympics and Beijing Winter Games, under recommendations from the Athletes’ Commission, the IOC announced Thursday.

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More than two-thirds of the 3,547 athletes surveyed felt that it was “not appropriate to demonstrate or express your point of view” on the podium, on a field or at official ceremonies, said the International Committee. Olympic.

This recommendation, adopted by the IOC Executive Board, follows calls to relax rule N.50 of the Olympic Charter, which prohibits any “political, religious or racial manifestation or propaganda” on Olympic venues.

Actions like those of American athletes John Carlos and Tommie Smith – who raised their fists at the Mexico Games in 1968 in support of the “Black Power” movement – could thus be punished, even if the sanctions remain to be determined.

“The majority of participating athletes do not think it is appropriate for athletes to express personal views during the Opening Ceremony, on the podium or on a sports field,” the IOC said in a statement.

“Respondents tend to think it is appropriate for athletes to manifest or express their opinions in the media, at press conferences and in mixed areas,” he adds.

Among the other recommendations adopted by the Executive Board, the Olympic oath will be adapted to promise cohesion and non-discrimination, and clothing marked with words such as “peace”, “solidarity” and “equality” will be provided to athletes.

The decision to ban any form of protest on the part of athletes could arouse opposition, after protest movements in several sports in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

The American Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) had assured at the end of March that sportsmen engaged in the Tokyo Games would be free to raise their fists or kneel during the national anthem, to support the efforts of racial justice.

China, which will host the Winter Games in Beijing in February, faces calls for a boycott due to the repression of Uyghurs in its province of Xinjiang and the restriction of freedoms in Hong Kong.