Sports

    Olympic Organizers Flummoxed by U.S. Decision to Back Athlete Protests

    breitbart– The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) decision to support athletes raising their fists or kneeling on the podium at next year’s Tokyo Games and beyond was met with polite obfuscation Friday by Olympic officials in Switzerland.

    As Breitbart News reported, the U.S. move was in response to calls from a USOPC athlete group that demanded changes to Rule 50 of the IOC Olympic Charter, which prohibits inside-the-lines protests at the Games.

    It was Rule 50 that led to the exit of U.S. medalists Tommie Smith and John Carlos from the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City after the sprinters raised their fists on the podium.

    The head of the IOC athlete commission, swimmer Kirsty Coventry of Zimbabwe, responded to the USOPC move by saying she would note it – but gave no immediate offical endorsement or approval.

    Instead she said the majority of athletes believe in the right of free speech, which is “respected” at the Olympic Games (but only in certain settings) and “express support for preserving the ceremonies, the podium and the field of play.” Coventry then added:

    The IOC Athletes’ Commission (AC) has received the statement from the Team USA Council on Racial and Social Justice which elaborates on racial and social problems in their country. This statement will be taken into consideration among the other feedback that it has received and continues to receive from the athletes of the other 205 NOCs.

    The IOC has always defended the rule against podium protests, explaining political statements have no place inside the competition venues at the Olympics.

    Though the IOC has called on its own athlete committee to explore possible changes to the rule, the call for action from the country that wins the most medals and funnels the most money to the Olympic movement stands out as the most high-profile pushback against the ban to date.

    As Breitbart News reported, most Australian Olympians oppose protests in competition or on the medal podium, a survey showed in August, with more than 80 percent agreeing on-field protests detract from the experience of athletes.

    The most favoured way for aggrieved athletes to stage political protests was on designated spaces like posting walls in the Olympic village, during interviews or via social media.

    The announcement by U.S. sports officials to back protesters came four-days after the IOC announced breakdancing will join the medal events program at the 2024 Paris Games as part of its desire to make the global event “fit for the post-corona world.”

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