LAUSANNE, SWITZERLAND – The International Olympic Committee released guidelines Thursday pertaining to Rule 50 of the Olympic Charter in order to avoid political protests at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
The IOC notified athletes ahead of the games, set to be held from July 24 to Aug. 9, that they will be prohibited from taking a knee, making hand gestures with a political meaning, or wearing or holding signs or armbands on the field, on the medal stand or in the Olympic Village.
But they will be allowed to express their political opinions on their social media accounts or during interviews with the media, such as news conferences and in the mixed zone, the new three-page document clarifying Rule 50 said.
The existing Rule 50 of the Olympic Charter states that “no kind of demonstration, political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas.”
Among the wave of recent athletes who have participated in protest is Ethiopian marathon runner Feyisa Lilesa, who crossed his arms above his head at the finish line to show support for civil rights protesters in his home country during the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
National Football League quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s playing career was seriously impacted in 2016 after he took a knee during the pregame U.S. national anthem to protest racial injustice in America. The act sparked the controversial #TakeAKnee movement.
Athletes who break protest rules at the Tokyo Games will receive disciplinary action from the IOC.
“If an athlete or participant is in breach of Rule 50 and the Olympic Charter, each incident will be evaluated by their respective National Olympic Committee, International Federation and the IOC, and disciplinary action will be taken on a case-by-case basis as necessary,” the document reads.