IOC: Taking knee, raising fist during Olympics will bring punishment

The International Olympic Committee has announced that if an athlete protests for racial equality, they will face punishment and could be sent home from the games.

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The IOC reiterated its Rule 50, which does not allow any “demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda” in any venue, Reuters reported.

That means that no athlete will be permitted to take a knee or raise a fist in support of racial equality.

There had been calls to change the rule in light of the Black Lives Matter movement.

IOC Athletes Commission Chief Kristy Coventry said athletes were consulted before the decision was made to keep the rule in place.

“I would not want something to distract from my competition and take away from that. That is how I still feel today,” Coventry said, according to Reuters.

If an athlete stages a political or social justice protest, they will have legal support if they face sanctions, The Associated Press reported.

“Any athlete sanctioned by the Tokyo Olympics will have the full backing of the World Players,” Brendan Schwab, executive director of the World Players Association union, told the AP.

Another group called Global Athlete told competitors to “not allow outdated ‘sports rules’ to supersede your basic human rights,” the AP reported.