Rule 50, a new regulation by the International Olympic Committee that bars any protests on the field of play at this year’s Summer Olympics in Tokyo, drew immediate protest from one of the world’s most outspoken athletes.
U.S. soccer standout Megan Rapinoe responded in a strong statement on her Instagram page.
The IOC announced the new regulations on January 9. The rules specifically prohibit displaying any political messaging, including signs or armbands. Also banned: Gestures of a political nature, like a hand gesture or kneeling, and refusal to follow the ceremonies protocol. They also prohibit any such displays within the competition venues and the Olympic Village.
“It is important, on both a personal and a global level, that we keep the venues, the Olympic Village and the podium neutral and free from any form of political, religious or ethnic demonstrations,” said an official statement from IOC after the regulation was made public.
Rule 50 follows protests by American athletes in international competitions at the Pan American Games last August. Hammer thrower Gwen Barry raised a fist on the medal stand in protest of what she termed “extreme injustice” in American society.
Fencer Race Imboden kneeled on the medal stand in protest of Trump Administration policy, racism, failure to achieve gun control and the administration’s treatment of immigrants.
and a president who spreads hate are at the top of a long list.— Race Imboden (@Race_Imboden) August 10, 2019
I chose to sacrifie my moment today at the top of the podium to call attention to issues that I believe need to be addressed. I encourage others to please use your platforms for empowerment and change.
The actions are perhaps the most public protests in an international competition since Tommie Smith and John Carlos’ raised their fists on the medal platform at the Mexico City Olympics in 1968. Both Berry and Imboden drew formal reprimands from the United States Olympic Committee for their actions and placed on probation for a year.
Berry has spoken out about the new IOC regulations. “It is a form of control. It’s kind of like silencing us at the biggest moments of our lives,” she told Yahoo Sports last week. “Anytime somebody gets on the podium, the first question they ask is, ‘Oh, how does it feel to win a medal for your country?’ It’s the same thing, over and over and over again. When are we gonna have conversations about real issues?”