IOC forbids athletes to kneel in solidarity against racism at Tokyo and Beijing Olympics

Participants at the Tokyo and Beijing Olympics were prohibited from expressing support for protests during competitions and award ceremonies, including kneeling on one knee in solidarity with the fight against racism, the International Olympic Committee’s press office said.

In response to the call to ease Olympic Charter Rule 50, which prohibits any “demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda” at Olympic venues, a survey of athletes was conducted. More than two-thirds of the 3,547 athletes surveyed expressed the opinion that such actions on the podium, on the competition field, or at official ceremonies were inappropriate. The International Olympic Committee Athletes’ Commission recommended that Rule 50 should continue to be followed, and the IOC Executive Committee supported this recommendation.

“The majority of athletes who participated (in the survey) did not consider it appropriate for athletes to express individual views during the opening ceremony, on the podium, or on the competition field,” the IOC said in a statement.

There are sanctions for violating the neutrality of sports and the Olympic Games, the range of which will be clarified shortly, taking into account the relevant context of each individual case.

After the death in custody of black man George Floyd in Minneapolis, a wave of protests against police racism swept across the United States. One sign of solidarity in this has been knee-jerk protesting, including during sporting events. However, not all athletes support the action. In 2020, a number of Formula One drivers, including Russian driver Daniil Kvyat, did not take a knee.

The 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo have been postponed by a year because of the coronavirus and will be held from July 23 to August 8. The 2022 Winter Games will be held in China from Feb. 4-20.

Participants in the Tokyo and Beijing Olympics will not be allowed to express solidarity with protests during the competition and award ceremonies, the International Olympic Committee press office said.