The Tokyo Olympics will start in July, and the International Olympic committee just made a decision. According to the Associated Press (via TMZ), athletes will not be allowed to wear Black Lives Matter apparel during the ceremonies. The IOC revealed its board policy two weeks ago, but the AP confirmed this week that Black Lives Matter apparel is included in the ban of protests and political messages.
The ban on protesting was put in place after a majority of athletes were polled in favor of the strict rules against demonstrations. "A very clear majority of athletes said that they think it's not appropriate to demonstrate or express their views on the field of play, at the official ceremonies or at the podium," IOC Athletes' Commission chief Kirsty Coventry said per TMZ. "So our recommendation is to preserve the podium, field of play and official ceremonies from any kind of protest or demonstrations or acts perceived as such."
This is part of Rule 50 of the Olympic Charter, which was published earlier this year. “They (the Olympics) are not and must never be a platform to advance political or any other divisive ends,” IOC President Thomas Bach said in January. “Our political neutrality is undermined whenever organizations or individuals attempt to use the Olympic Games as a stage for their own agendas, as legitimate as they may be.”
It's unclear what type of punishment an athlete will face if they were to wear Black Lives Matter apparel, but the IOC said 70% of athletes polled do not think it's appropriate to demonstrate during the games. Additionally, 67% said it's not appropriate to demonstrate on the medal stand.
One of the more memorable protests in the Olympics came during the 1968 games in Mexico City. Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised a black-gloved fist during the playing of the U.S. national anthem while on the medal stand, which meant "Black Power." During a press conference, Smith explained why he decided to raise his fist.
"If I win I am an American, not a black American," Smith said. "But if I did something bad then they would say 'a Negro'. We are black and we are proud of being black. "Black America will understand what we did tonight." A spokesperson from the IOC said the actions of Smith and Carlos were "a deliberate and violent breach of the fundamental principles of the Olympic spirit."