Olympic officials maintain ban on athletes protesting on the field or at the medal stand

Olympic athletes will not be allowed to drop on one knee, raise fists or otherwise demonstrate on playing fields or on medal podiums, the International Olympic Committee said on Wednesday in an announcement confirming its current ban on political demonstrations.

Olympic athletes have long been banned from making political statements or demonstrating at the Summer or Winter Games, but the IOC has revisited the issue in an 11 month study after a new wave of militant athletes took a public stand on issues ranging from sexism and racism to human rights.

But to “protect the neutrality of sport”, the IOC said the rule would remain unchanged, after a poll of more than 3,500 athletes from 185 countries found that 70% thought the protests were inappropriate on the pitch. game, and 67% opposed the protests over the medal. stands.

“The IOC IOC is very concerned about the risk of politicization of athletes and the risk of athletes being subjected to external pressure,” the organization said in a statement. “It is important to protect athletes from the potential consequences of being placed in a position where they may be compelled to take a public stand on a particular national or international issue, regardless of their beliefs.”

The IOC and its Athletes’ Commission have said they “fully support freedom of expression”, but said protests or political statements are more appropriate at press conferences and interviews, at team meetings or on social networks.

“The aim of this broad campaign was to engage with the athletes and hear their thoughts on existing and new opportunities to express their views at the Olympic Games as well as outside of the Games period,” Kirsty Coventry , a former Olympic gold medalist swimmer and current chairman of the IOC Athletes’ Commission, said in a statement. “We want to amplify the voice of athletes and find more ways to support the values ​​of the Olympic Games and what sport represents. “

The IOC did not specify how the athletes would be punished or penalized if they protested anyway, saying only that they would be dealt with on a case-by-case basis.

In December, the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee said it would not punish athletes who peacefully protest social justice issues at the Olympics.

The Tokyo Summer Olympics, which were postponed by the pandemic last year, are scheduled to start on July 23.

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