US Olympians Demand Clearance to Protest During 2021 Games

U.S. Olympians are looking to make a significant change at the 2021 games in Tokyo. Team USA's Council on Radical and Social Justice is asking for a change to a rule made by the International Olympic Committee, which prohibits demonstrations and protests at the Games. The council was formed this past summer and is requesting that athletes can protest without sanctions during the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

"The Team USA Council on Racial and Social Justice provided its recommendation to the USOPC, NGBs, IOC and IPC in an effort to show the power and duty athletes have to build a more inclusive world through sport," Moushaumi Robinson, a 2004 Olympic track-and-field gold medalist and chair of the Council, said in a press release as reported by Sportico. "The Council believes the diversity of Team USA athletes is our strength, and that this recommendation can be a catalyst for change."

The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee has the support of the council, saying it will not sanction any U.S. Athletes that are planning to protest. "The USOPC values the voices of Team USA athletes and believes that their right to advocate for racial and social justice, and be a positive force for change, absolutely aligns with the fundamental values of equality that define Team USA and the Olympic and Paralympic movements," USOPC CEO Sarah Hirshland said in a statement.

The International Olympic Committee said it would take the council's recommendation into consideration "among other feedback it has received." Last year, the IOC reprimanded but did not punish two U.S. athletes who protested during the national anthem. One of the athletes was kneeling while the other raised a fist in the air during the Pan American Games last summer.

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According to Rule 50 of the Olympic Charter: "No kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas." The USOPC Athletes' Advisory Council called the IOC to abolish Rule 50 over the summer, which was around the same time the racial injustice and police brutality protests were going on across the country. It is expected the IOC will make a decision about protesting during the upcoming Olympic Games sometime next year. The Olympics in Tokyo was originally set to take place this past summer but was pushed back to next year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.