Story at a glance

  • Social media teams for the International Olympic Committee and Tokyo 2020 organizers were reportedly prohibited from posting images of Olympians taking a knee in protest over racial injustice.
  • Several women’s soccer teams, including the U.S. Women’s National Team and Great Britain, knelt prior to the beginning of their respective matches.
  • No pictures were reportedly shared on official social media accounts.

Social media teams for the International Olympic Committee and Tokyo 2020 organizers were reportedly prohibited from posting images of Olympians taking a knee in protest over racial injustice. 

Several women’s soccer teams, including the U.S. Women’s National Team and Great Britain, knelt prior to the beginning of their respective matches yet pictures featuring demonstrating athletes were left off official social media channels, The Guardian reported

“As players in Great Britain we’ve been taking the knee in club and international matches and we felt strongly as a group that we wanted to show support for those affected by discrimination and equality,” Great Britain team captain Steph Houghton said after a match with Chile, according to The Guardian.

“It was a proud moment because the Chile players took the knee too to show how united we are as a sport,” she added.


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The IOC relaxed its stance on athlete protest in July with Rule 50.2, which allows athletes to peacefully protest in a variety of venues — including the field of play. Previously, rule 50 explicitly barred games athletes from participating in protests, saying “no kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas.” 

The IOC upheld rule 50 in April based on a consultation of more than 3,500 athletes that began in June 2020. The survey found 70 percent of the athletes opposed protests at Olympic venues. At the time, protesting athletes would be subject to punishment. 

Yet protests, under the updated rule, will remain strictly prohibited in the Olympic Village and during opening and closing ceremonies. Opening ceremonies for the delayed Tokyo Olympics are set to begin July 23. 


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The IOC did not directly respond to The Guardian’s requests to directly address the allegations. 

But IOC President Thomas Bach, when asked about the controversial issue Wednesday said bluntly “it is allowed.” 

“It is no violation of Rule 50. That is expressively what is allowed in these guidelines,” Bach concluded. 


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Published on Jul 22, 2021