Bach warns athletes against “political protests” on the podiums

IOC Vice President John Coates attends a meeting between IOC President Thomas Bach and Tokyo Governor Koike Yuriko in Tokyo, Japan on July 15, 2021. Christopher Jue / Pool via REUTERS

July 16 (Reuters) – Athletes must not hold “political demonstrations” or express their private opinions on the medal podium at the Tokyo Games, International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach said on Friday.

The IOC this month relaxed its Rule 50, which previously prohibited athletes from demonstrating, but now allows them to make gestures on the pitch, as long as they do so without disruption and with respect for other competitors.

However, there is still a threat of sanctions if protests are made on the medal podium from July 23 through August. 8 games.

“The podium and medal ceremonies are not made … for a political protest or otherwise,” Bach told the Financial Times.

“They are made to honor athletes and medalists for their athletic achievements and not for their private (opinions).

“The mission is to bring the whole world together in one place and to compete peacefully with each other. You would never get there if the Games (became) divisive.

While athlete protests at the Olympics are rare, at the 1968 Mexico Games black American sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos were sent off after lowering their heads and raising their black-gloved fists to the podium in protest against the racial inequalities.

At Rio 2016, Ethiopian marathoner Feyisa Lilesa raised his arms and crossed his wrists as he crossed the finish line to show his support for protests by his Oromo tribe against the government’s plans to reallocate farmland.

British women’s football coach Hege Riise said on Thursday that her players will kneel before matches at the Tokyo Games to raise awareness of racism and all forms of discrimination.

The act of taking the knee is a form of protest first made by American football quarterback Colin Kaepernick and followed by the Black Lives Matter movement.

Report by Manasi Pathak in Bangalore; Editing by Stephen Coates

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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