Athletes are allowed to demonstrate at Olympics

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) gives athletes room to express political or social views during the Olympics. Athletes who want to kneel or raise an arm with a clenched fist, as an expression against discrimination, for example, may do so prior to competitions. They are also allowed to speak in interviews and social media.

It remains forbidden in the athletes village or at the celebrations on stage. With the decision, the IOC has slightly relaxed the unshakable rule 50 of the Olympic Charter. This rule prohibits any form of political, religious or racial propaganda during the Games.

Ban on matches

Under pressure from global protests and demonstrations against race inequality, the IOC put the topic on the agenda. It is the first time that athletes are allowed to express themselves at the Games in interviews or during their pre-match introduction.

In the run-up to the Tokyo Games, starting in 21 days, an easing of these guidelines was introduced after consultation with 3500 athletes. A majority indicated that they wanted more space to express a personal conviction during the Games, but not during the games or the honour ceremony.

In an explanatory statement, the IOC says athletes are expected to respect the law, Olympic values and their fellow athletes.

Kneeling at European Championships

The question of whether the expression of political-social views and sport belong together has also led to discussion at the European Championships. Teams such as Belgium and England, who kneel in protest against discrimination prior to a match, were shouted by supporters.

And the Munich City Councils desire to illuminate the Allianz Arena stadium in rainbow colours, as a protest against an anti-lhbti law that has recently been in force in Hungary, was rejected by UEFA.

The union argued that stadiums should have the colours of UEFA and the participating countries. The City Council then decided to highlight other prominent buildings in the city in the rainbow colors.