The International Olympic Committee (IOC) issued a set of guidelines this week ahead of the 2020 Olympic Games. One rule bans athletes from kneeling, raising a fist or making any gesture that demonstrates 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 reads. “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.”
“If we do not, the life’s work of the athletes around us could be tarnished, and the world would quickly no longer be able to look at us competing and living respectfully together, as conflicts drive a wedge between individuals, groups and nations,” the ruling continues.
Athletes will not be permitted to display political protest in several ways, including wearing politically messaged armbands or signage, hand gestures, kneeling or refusing to follow Ceremonies protocol.
Athletes are allowed to express their opinions and views during press conferences, interviews, in the International Broadcasting Centre, during team meetings and through digital or traditional media.
“Athletes at the Olympic Games are part of a global community with many different views, lifestyles and values,” the ruling reads. “The mission of the Olympic Games to bring the entire world together can facilitate the understanding of different views, but this can be accomplished only if everybody respects this diversity.”
“When an individual makes their grievances, however legitimate, more important than the feelings of their competitors and the competition itself, the unity and harmony as well as the celebration of sport and human accomplishment are diminished,” the website continues.
The IOC further states that athletes who breach this policy may receive disciplinary action on a case-by-case basis.
The 2020 Olympics will take place from July 24 through Aug. 9 in Tokyo.