International Olympic Committee to come down heavy on athlete protests during Tokyo 2020

The International Olympic Committee is doing everything possible to make sure that none of the athletes are seen taking a knee during the upcoming 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The IOC recently became the next athletic organization to completely ban political protests by athletes during its events. The newly published rules will govern how and when competitors are allowed to express their political opinions.

With only a few months remaining for the next edition of the Summer Olympics, all eyes are set on Tokyo for the first grand sports event of this decade. Various portals have come up to talk about the chances of different national teams going into the competition. For instance, here’s what can be expected from the Kiwi contingent going to the games. These new IOC rules will make sure that there are fewer or no incidents of athletes conducting demonstrations or protests on the playing fields of the Olympic Village, during closing or opening ceremonies as well as when the medals are being given. The rule details various examples of protests that are prohibited, including politically suggestive hand gestures, refusal to follow protocol, certain signs, and messages written on armbands. Athletes will be permitted to express their political opinions only during mixed-zone interviews, press conferences, media gatherings and through social media platforms.

 

IOC’s take

These new rules are quite contradictory to the kind of protests that have been witnessed in the past at the quadrennial sports event. Who can forget the famous protest by John Carlos and Tommy Smith on the podium in the 1968 edition of the games, when they raise their gloved fists during the medal ceremony as a protest of racism practiced in America at that time? That kind of protest is now banned under these new rules. The IOC officials stressed on the importance of limiting political speech in order to maintain harmony between the participating nations and athletes in the Olympic Games. They talked about keeping the Olympic Village as well as all the involved sports events neutral and completely free from any type of ethnic, religious or political demonstrations.

Many believe that the action goes against the spirit of the Olympic Games

Although restricting such protests might result in an adequately sterilized sports environment for the involved broadcasters and sponsors, such restrictions might violate the actual spirit of the Olympic Games. Pierre de Coubertin, who founded the modern-day Olympics used to talk about the motive of these games to bring humanity together to not just celebrate sporting excellence but to work together for an improved world too.

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While the athletes could still go ahead and protest, but they might risk facing three-layered disciplinary action – from the international governing body of their corresponding sport, the Olympic Committee of their home nation and from the International Olympic Committee.

Athlete Global issues a strong statement against IOC

In a statement issued recently, the Athlete Global came down heavily on IOC for limiting the freedom of expression of the athletes. It said that the Olympic Movement has itself politicized sports by promoting unified South and North Korea during the 2018 Winter Games, and making heads of the states as automatic heads of their corresponding National Olympic Committees. The statement stressed on the importance of embracing diverse opinions. It strongly opposed the silencing of athletes and threatening them with the possible removal from the event.