Story at a glance

  • The International Olympic Committee and Tokyo 2020 organizers reversed a reported mandate prohibiting their social media teams from posting images of racial justice demonstrations.
  • The Guardian reported Thursday that, despite several teams kneeling before competition, official social media channels appeared to exclude those images from their posts.
  • 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.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Tokyo 2020 organizers reversed a reported mandate prohibiting their social media teams from featuring posts showing athletes engaging in racial justice demonstrations. 

The Guardian reported Thursday that, despite several teams kneeling before competition, official social media channels appeared to exclude the images from their posts. But on Friday, the Olympics Twitter page posted a photo of Great Britain soccer player Lucy Bronze kneeling before a match against Chile. Both teams took a knee. 

“Sports started yesterday. Just some of the highlights: Japan starting strong in softball. Teams were kneeling before the competition,” the post’s caption read. 


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When asked about protests on Wednesday, IOC President Thomas Bach said “it is allowed,” saying “it is no violation of Rule 50. That is expressively what is allowed in these guidelines.”

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


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The IOC upheld rule 50 after consultation of more than 3,500 athletes found 70 percent of the athletes opposed protests at Olympic venues. At the time, athletes who defied rule 50 would be subject to punishment. 

But protests, under the updated rule, will remain strictly prohibited in the Olympic Village and during opening and closing ceremonies. Opening ceremonies at the Tokyo Olympics will take place July 23.


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Published on Jul 23, 2021