Athletes face bans for taking a knee at Tokyo 2021 Olympics, IOC confirms

Tommie Smith and John Carlos bowed their heads and raised black-gloved fists in protest at the 1968 Mexico Olympics
Tommie Smith and John Carlos bowed their heads and raised black-gloved fists in protest at the 1968 Mexico Olympics (DPA/PA Images)
10:51am, Wed 10 Jun 2020
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The International Olympics Committee has warned athletes that they face a ban if they choose to ’take a knee’ or engage in protests at next year’s Games in Tokyo.

Officials confirmed that their guidelines regarding banning of protests, including raising a fist or taking a knee, had not changed and those who violated these rules would be sanctioned.

This approach is in contrast to that of other sporting organisations, including England’s FA, FIFA and the NFL who have all amended their regulations.

Rule 50 of the Olympic Charter states ’no kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas’.

Despite a widespread change in attitudes following the racial movement sparked by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, the IOC said these ’guidelines remain in place’.

A spokesperson told The Telegraph: no change had been made because they could notspeculate on hypothetical cases 13 months before the Olympic Games’.

Athletes engaging in any form of protest during the Games will be reviewed and disciplined on a case-by-case basis.

The IOC board will meet on Wednesday to further discuss anti-racism movements.

Although rare, protests have taken place at previous Olympic Games with the most famous at the 1968 Games in Mexico City when two black US sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos protested against racial inequality by bowing their heads and raising black-gloved fists while standing on the podium.

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