Athletes Who Take a Knee or Raise a Fist in Protest at Tokyo Olympics Will Face Punishment

The International Olympic Committee announced Wednesday that its ban on athletes demonstrating in official venues will remain in place for this summer’s Tokyo Olympics, and reiterated that kneeling or raising a fist in protest will be grounds for punishment.

The IOC’s “Rule 50” states that “No kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas.” But the committee agreed to revisit the rule amid pressure after American athletes made it a commonplace occurrence to protest their own national anthem as a way to call for racial justice in the U.S.

In a report detailing the reasoning behind its decision to keep the rule, the IOC explained that over the past year it conducted a survey of more than 3,500 international athletes across the globe and found that “a clear majority of athletes believe that it is not appropriate for athletes to demonstrate or express their views” at the podium (67%), field of play (70%), or during the opening ceremony (70%).

IOC’s Athletes’ Commission chief Kirsty Coventry led an online presentation of the Rule 50 results, Reuters reported. The former Olympic swimming champion for Zimbabwe told the audience, “I would not want something to distract from my competition and take away from that. That is how I still feel today.” (Read more from “Athletes Who Take a Knee or Raise a Fist in Protest at Tokyo Olympics Will Face Punishment” HERE)

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