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U.S. Olympics will allow athletes to kneel, raise fists during trials

The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee will not penalize athletes for raising their fists or kneeling during the national anthem.

Olympics Yukihito Taguchi/USA Today Sports

The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) will not penalize athletes who kneel or raise their fists during the national anthem at the Olympic trials.

On Tuesday (March 30), the USOPC released a nine-page memo that outlined “racial and social demonstrations” that will and will not be allowed by the competing athletes. Hate symbols and actions that would hinder others from participating, including laying down in the middle of the track, are prohibited. Holding up a fist, kneeling during the anthem and wearing articles of clothing with phrases such as “Black Lives Matter” and “Equality” will be permitted.

The document also makes clear that acceptable demonstrations should involve “advancing racial and social justice; or promoting the human dignity of individuals or groups that have historically been underrepresented, minoritized, or marginalized in their respective societal context.”

It also states that while the USOPC will not punish athletes for their actions, it cannot “prevent ... third parties from making statements or taking actions of their own and that each participant must make their own personal decision about the risks and benefits that may be involved.”

Last year, REVOLT reported that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) banned athletes from taking a knee, raising a fist or making any gesture that demonstrated a political protest.

“We believe that the example we set by competing with the world’s best while living in harmony in the Olympic Village is a uniquely positive message to send to an increasingly divided world,” the IOC website previously read. “This is why 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.”

Athletes were also not allowed to wear politically messaged armbands or signage, make any hand gestures, kneel or refuse to follow ceremony protocol.

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