Professional athletes hit back Thursday after the International Olympic Committee said protests on podiums and the field of play would stay banned at the Tokyo Games and Beijing Winter Season Olympics.
United States hammer thrower Gwen Berry, who staged a raised-fist protest on the podium at the 2019 Pan-American Games in Peru, didn’t mince words in calling the IOC “hypocrites who continue to silence athletes for capital gain”.
” Once again, they are on the wrong side of history. I motivate all athletes to STAND in their power and do what they feel is right!”
Her comments came after the IOC executive board, acting on a suggestion from its athletes commission, decreased to unwind the longstanding Guideline 50 of the Olympic Charter, which prohibits any “presentation or political, spiritual or racial propaganda” at Olympic websites.
There had actually been prevalent calls to get rid of Guideline 50 after 2020 saw activism in support of racial and social justice initiatives such as Black Lives Matter sweep through sport.
The US Olympic and Paralympic Committee had officially prompted the IOC to rethink Rule 50 and pledged not to sanction American professional athletes for “considerate” presentations in assistance of racial and social justice in Tokyo.
While the IOC adopted a recommendation from the athletes’ commission to adjust the Olympic oath to promise addition and non-discrimination, and hand out clothing with words such as “peace”, “uniformity” and “equality” to competitors at the Games, more specific demonstrations stay prohibited.
The IOC stated a survey of 3,547 athletes discovered that more than two-thirds said it was “not proper to demonstrate or express their views” on the victory podium, field of play or at official ceremonies.
” The participants were most likely to think it appropriate for professional athletes to demonstrate or express their specific views in the media, in interview and in the blended zones.”
The decision means that a repeat of Tommie Smith and John Carlos’s raised-fist salute at the Mexico 1968 Games, among the most enduring Olympic images, could still face penalty, although possible sanctions are yet to be figured out.
U.S.A. hammer thrower Gwen Berry was punished for raising her fist on the podium at the 2019 Pan American Games AFP/ ANDREJ ISAKOVIC
International Professional athlete, an organization formed to strengthen professional athletes’ voices in world sport, questioned the method of the survey, stating it had commissioned social science research professionals who discovered it flawed.
” One can not survey how individuals feel about human rights and liberty of expression. These kinds of studies only empower the majority when it is the minority that desire and need to be heard,” Irish karate professional athlete and Worldwide Professional athlete establishing member Caradh O’Donovan stated.
” Once once again, the IOC has preferred suppression over expression.”
Four-time Olympic gold medallist Michael Johnson stated the decision continues the IOC’s ban on “among other things, athletes demonstrating even for peace and unity on the podium.
” Pointing out 70% of professional athletes polled supported this. Taking the 70% claim at stated value, I question what percent of those polled have been marginalized and targeted for hate,” Johnson tweeted.
The USOPC’s professional athlete advisory council stated in a statement Thursday it was dissatisfied the IOC professional athletes’ commission work on the issue failed to result in “meaningful or impactful change” to Rule 50.
” Until the IOC alters its method of feeding the myth of the neutrality of sport or securing the status quo, the voices of marginalized professional athletes will continue to be silenced,” the council stated.
” Our company believe that athletes are human beings very first and professional athletes second, and we persevere in our dedication to empower, assistance, and secure members of Group U.S.A. who use their platform to eliminate for racial and social justice.”
China, which will host the Beijing Winter season Olympics in February, is dealing with examination and boycott calls over several concerns including the mass internment and other repression of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang and the clampdown on flexibilities in Hong Kong.