International Olympic Committee Bans Kneeling And Other Political Protests At The 2020 Olympics
Don’t expect to see any political protests at this year’s Olympic games.
The International Olympic Committee published new guidelines on Thursday, which prohibits athletes from showing up with political displays like armbands or signs, also blocking any gestures of a political nature, which includes kneeling during a national anthem. All participating athletes must follow protocol at Olympic ceremonies and while participating in the Games, or they risk being reprimanded.
“We believe that the example we set by competing with the worlds best while living in harmony in Olympic Village is a uniquely positive message to send to an increasingly divided world,” the governing body said in their statement. “This is why it is important, on both a personal and global level, that we keep the venues, the Olympic Village and the podium neutral and free from any form of political, religious or ethnic demonstrations.”
The committee didn’t go into detail about what kind of punishment athletes would face if they decide to protest anyway, but simply said that “disciplinary action will be taken on a case-by-case basis.”
This is an interesting decision for the IOC, because the Olympics have been a stage for athletes to protest for causes they believe in for a long time now.
USA sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos famously protested at the Mexico City Games in 1968 by raising their gloved fists during the civil rights movement.
Even more recently, though, athletes have continued to use different global sporting events for other means of protest. At the Pan American Games in 2019, Olympic fencing medalist Race Imboden knelt in protest of racism and Donald Trump’s spreading of hatred throughout our country.
“This week I am honored to represent Team USA at the Pan Am Games, taking home Gold and Bronze,” Imboden tweeted. “My pride, however, has been cut short by the multiple shortcomings of the country I hold so dear to my heart. Racism, Gun Control, mistreatment of immigrants and a president who spreads hate are at the top of a long list.”
The XXXII Olympic Summer Games kick off on July 24 in Tokyo, Japan.