The International Olympic Committee on Thursday published the guidelines clearly stating on which types of athletes protests will be forbidden at the upcoming Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics.
The IOC set rules, restricting the Tokyo Olympics athletes of No Kneeling, Hand Gestures or Political protests. IOC published the Olympics Charters Rule 50, where athletes are prohibited from taking any political stand in the game, the one that took place at the 1968 Mexico City Texas of raising fists by American Sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos.
Kristy Coventry, chair of the IOC athletes stated: “We needed clarity and they want the clarity on the rules” which directed the three-page document. The majority of the athletes feel it is very important that we respect each other as an athlete”.
There will be strict rules binding on the participants, who will break the protest rules and has to face disciplinary action by IOC, a National Olympic body and a sports governing body.
However, participants are still allowed to express their political opinion on social media, team meetings, and official media conferences.
The IOC documents, state the rules “ It is a fundamental principle that sport is neutral and must be separate from political, religious or any other type of interference. The focus for the field of play and related ceremonies must be on celebrating athletes’ performance”.
The IOC brought these new guidelines after two Americans Fencer Race Imboden kneeled and hammer thrower Gwen Berry raised a fist in protest, were rebuked by the US Olympic Committee for medal podium protests that took place at the Pan- American Games in Lima, Peru on August. The IOC took immediate action of putting them on probation for 12 months, that covers a period of Tokyo Olympics.
Swimmers of Australia and Britain joined the protest in 2019, thereby refusing to join the world championship gold medallist Sun Yang on the podium. The athletes protested because of the involvement of the Chinese star in the doping violations.
Race Imboden, a fencer gold medal winner from the US also protested by taking a knee at an awards presentation at the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima.
Egyptian Judoka Islam El Shehaby after their bout was sent back home at the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympics, as he refused to shake the hand of Israeli or Sassoon.
IOC President Thomas Bach also expressed his views over the protest saying “politicians and athletes should keep politics out of this year’s Games to protect the event’s neutrality and its status as a peaceful meeting place.
After a meeting with Coventry on Thursday, Bach told reporters “The mission of the Olympics is to unite and not to divide. We are the only event in the world that gets the entire world together in peaceful competition. I ask them [ politicians and athletes] to respect the mission of the Olympic Games and in order to accomplish this mission, we must be politically neutral. Otherwise, we would end up in the divisive and boycott situation. I ask them to respect this political neutrality by not using them [ the Olympics’] as a stage for their political purposes”.
The IOC executive board and the athlete’s panel also discussed Charters Rule 40, on Thursday’s meeting. The Rule strictly limits an athlete’s ability to promote their sponsors during the official Olympic Games periods.