Geneva athletes who protested political or social justice in the Tokyo Olympics got a legal promise from a world federation and a group of activists in Germany on Thursday.
The promises came a day after the International Olympic Committee confirmed its long-standing ban on “political, religious or racial demonstrations or propaganda” in the stadium, medal square, or at official celebrations.
Raising a fist or kneeling to listen to the national anthem can punish the IOC. The Olympic Committee’s Legal Committee must clarify what kind of penalty will be imposed before this year’s Games, which open on July 23.
The International Olympic Committee has also said that slogans such as “black lives matter” are not allowed on sportswear in Olympic stadiums, although they are accepted with the words “peace”, “respect”, “solidarity”, “inclusion” and “equality.” .
The IOC Athletes ‘Committee noted support for the maintenance of Rule 50 of the Olympic Charter from more than two-thirds of the responses of about 3,500 audio athletes’ groups.
“This is exactly the expected result,” said Brendan Schwab, CEO of the World Players’ Federation. “The Olympic movement understands its history no better than the athletes.”
“Any athlete who is punished in the Tokyo Olympics will have the support of the whole world of the world’s players,” Schwab told The Associated Press in a telephone interview from Australia.
The independent group representing the German athletes promised legal support for their national team.
“If German athletes decide peacefully to uphold peaceful core values such as combating racism during the Olympics, they can count on the legal support of the German athlete,” said Johannes Herber, the group’s chief executive.
In a statement, another group of athletes, the Global Athlete, urged athletes “not to allow” old sports rules “to replace your basic human rights.” The survey methods are defective.
“These kinds of polls only allow the majority if the minority wants and needs to be listened to,” said Karad O’Donovan from Ireland, a karate athlete who helped found a world-class athlete.
While the International Olympic Committee has said cases will be judged on merit, athletes who followed the greetings of American runners Tommy Smith and John Carlos at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics can still be repatriated.
The US Olympic and Paralympic Committee inaugurated Smith and Carlos in its Hall of Fame in 2019. In December, it promised not to take action against athletes protesting their Olympic experiences in Tokyo. On Thursday, it announced a statement that its plans to update its recently published protest policy have not changed in response to the IOC decision.
“We are also not making any commitments to raising the voices of athletes and the marginalized everywhere in support of race and social justice,” said Sarah Hirschland, Executive Director.
The USOPC Athletes Group also released a statement saying it was disappointed not to see “meaningful or effective change” to rule 50.
“Until the International Olympic Committee changes its approach to nurturing the myth of sporting neutrality or protecting the status quo, the voices of marginalized athletes will remain silent,” the athletes’ group leaders said in a statement.
Both Schwab and Herber said that minorities would be protected from discrimination if the International Olympic Committee recognized the human rights of athletes to express themselves.
Schwab said the International Olympic Committee had made a mistake in trying to regulate where the protest could take place rather than the content of the advertisement, adding that freedom of expression for athletes in Olympic stadiums was “respected, protected and effectively promoted.”
Athletes violating Rule 50 can be punished by three bodies: the International Olympic Committee, their Athletic Federation and their National Olympic Committee (NOC).
The leaders of two of the largest Olympic bodies – World Athletics President Sebastian Coe and FIFA President Gianni Infantino – have spoken out against the punishment of athletes for declaring social justice. Coe presented his annual award to Smith, Carlos and fellow runner on the 200m podium in Mexico City, Peter Norman from Australia, last December.
In the past, National Olympic Committees have played an important role in punishing athletes who violate Olympic rules. When the USOPC withdrew from this role, Schwab noted, “There is great confusion about responsibility for sanctions.”