IOC confirm athletes face bans for taking knee at Tokyo 2021 Olympics and Paralympics

The governing body has decided to maintain guidelines despite several sports moving to allow protests in the wake of George Floyd’s death

Ian Ransom
Wednesday 10 June 2020 08:06 BST
Bundesliga players have been taking a knee since the season resumed
Bundesliga players have been taking a knee since the season resumed (AFP)

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has confirmed that athletes are still banned from protesting at the Olympic Games after several sports moved to allow protests in the wake of George Floyd's death in police custody.

Rule 50 of the Olympic Charter states "no kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas."

Athletes who breach the rule are subject to discipline on a case-by-case basis and the IOC issued guidelines in January clarifying that banned protests include taking a knee and other gestures.

The IOC told the Telegraph the guidelines were still in place and that it would not speculate on "hypothetical cases 13 months before the Olympic Games".

Floyd, a 46-year-old African-American man, died after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee into Floyd's neck for nearly nine minutes on May 25.

His death sparked worldwide protests against racial injustice, with several soccer players in Germany's Bundesliga delivering their own messages of support during games.

World governing body FIFA, which has shown zero tolerance for players expressing their views on the field, has asked competition organisers to use "common sense" regarding protests over Floyd's death.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who was widely criticised for the league's handling of Colin Kaepernick's kneeling protests in 2016, said on Friday the NFL had made mistakes in not listening to players and encouraged them to speak out and "peacefully protest".

Anti-racism movements are expected to be discussed at an IOC executive board meeting on Wednesday.

While athlete protests at the Olympics are rare, at the 1968 Mexico City Games black U.S. sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos bowed their heads and raised black-gloved fists on the podium to protest racial inequality.

At Rio 2016, Ethiopian marathon runner Feyisa Lilesa raised his arms and crossed his wrists when crossing the finish line to show support for his Oromo tribe's protests over government plans to reallocate farmland.


Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in