The International Olympic Committee says it will begin including images of athletes kneeling in official highlights and social media channels.
Players from five women’s soccer teams — Team GB, USA, Sweden, Chile and New Zealand — knelt on Wednesday in support of racial justice, the first day it was allowed at the Olympics after a decades-long ban on political statements was lifted. .
But official Olympic social media channels — including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages — won’t feature photos of athletes’ activism on Wednesday.
Those images were also excluded from the official Tokyo Olympic highlights package provided by the IOC to media outlets unable to broadcast the games live.
But in an apparent change of policy on Thursday, the Olympic body said: “The IOC covers the Games on its own and operated platforms and such moments will be included in [in highlights] also.’
On Thursday morning Tokyo time, an image of Team GB’s Lucy Bronze grabbing the knee before the team’s game against Chile in Japan was shared by the @Olympics twitter account, which also has a Chilean player kneeling in the background.
An accompanying message read: ‘Sports started yesterday. Just some of the highlights: Japan starts strong in softball. Teams knelt before the game.’
On Thursday morning Tokyo time, an image of Team GB’s Lucy Bronze grabbing the knee before the team’s game against Chile in Japan was shared by the @Olympics twitter account (pictured) along with the message: ‘Sports started yesterday. Just some of the highlights: Japan starts strong in softball. Teams knelt before the game’
The women’s soccer teams of the USA and Team GB fell to their knees on Wednesday during their opening games at the Olympics.
All players participated in the gesture ahead of the kick-off between four-time Olympic champions USA and Sweden in Tokyo, an hour after Team GB and Chile did the same in Sapporo.
And during the final women’s football match of the day, the Australian players posed with an Indigenous flag and switched arms before kick-off, while their New Zealand counterparts knelt.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) recently relaxed rules on protests at the Games, easing a long-standing ban on political statements at the global sporting event.
But on Wednesday, it was revealed that the organizers of the IOC and Tokyo 2020 had banned their social media teams from sharing photos of athletes sitting on the knee.
No images of the gesture were posted on the Tokyo 2020 official live blog or social media pages, nor on the IOC’s platforms, during or after Wednesday’s games.
A source told the guard The IOC’s stance was odd given its celebration of past protests at the Games, including the iconic image of Tommie Smith and John Carlos raising their fists in solidarity with black people in 1968.
Alex Morgan from the US and Hanna Glas from Sweden join the gesture at the start of their clash in Tokyo
Pictured: Team New Zealand players kneel in support of the Black Lives Matter movement ahead of the Women’s First Round Group G match between Australia and New Zealand during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Tokyo Stadium on July 21, 2021
Following the easing of the ban, athletes are now allowed to kneel before play begins to expose racial injustice, speak to the media and post their opinions online, or wear clothes with a protest slogan at a press conference .
But political statements at events, victory ceremonies and in the Olympic Village are still out of the question, the IOC said.
“It feels really good for us to stand up for human rights,” Swedish defender Amanda Ilestedt told reporters after her team’s 3-0 win.
“It was a communication with the US team before, so for us it feels good to do that and it’s something we stand for as a team.”
For Team GB captain Steph Houghton, it was important to keep a promise made before the Games.
“Taking the knee was something we talked about as a group. We feel so strong and we want to show that we are united,” she said.
‘We want to fight all forms of discrimination and as a group of women we wanted to kneel against it.
“It was a proud moment, because the Chilean players also got down on their knees to show how united we are as a sport.”
All 22 players participated in the gesture ahead of the kick-off between four-time Olympic champions USA and Sweden in Tokyo
New Zealand also took the knee in their match against Australia at Tokyo Stadium, while their opponents did not.
However, the Australian players held onto the country’s indigenous flag as they posed for their pre-match team photo.
Taking the knee, which has been widely used in the Premier League since the Black Lives Matter protests last year, proved controversial in the Euro 2020 tournament, with some fans booing the gesture.
Black players in England’s men’s team were subjected to a storm of online racial abuse this month following their final defeat, which drew widespread condemnation from the squad captain, manager, royalty, religious leaders and politicians.
But the women’s players in the Olympics were not bothered by fan resistance as they played in front of empty stadiums.
The gesture originated in the United States when American soccer player Colin Kaepernick knelt during the national anthem on September 1, 2016, to draw attention to racial inequality and police brutality in the country.
His action sparked a series of anthem protests and was taken up by other sports, while he was also seen at Black Lives Matter protests in the US and UK, among others – most notably in 2020 following the murder of George Floyd.
The matches will be played in front of empty stadiums due to the ongoing Covid situation in Japan
Team GB won the Group E opener in Sapporo 2-0, with Manchester City striker Ellen White scoring twice and a goal ruled out by VAR for offside.
Hege Riise’s side aims to become the first British team to win an Olympic football medal.
Lauren Hemp headed the ball for Ellen White for a close-in goal in the 18th minute. White’s second goal was a volley to the far post in the 75th.
Chile, number 37 in the world, made its Olympic debut. Chile, known as La Roja, qualified for Tokyo by beating Cameroon 2-1 in an intercontinental play-off.
Meanwhile, Sweden delivered a shocking result, beating favorites the US 3-0.