NEW YORK – June 28: At the Olympic Games, athletes do not have the right to express their political, religious, or racial opinions. A contested rule and that many consider outdated.
OLYMPIC GAMES – American sportsmen and the iconic John Carlos, excluded from the Olympic Games in Mexico in 1968 for raising his fist against racial segregation, called on the IOC to remove the rules prohibiting athletes from expressing their political, religious or race during the Games.
“Athletes will not be silenced any longer,” the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) Athletes’ Council wrote on Saturday, June 27, so joined by John Carlos, who was kicked out of the Olympics after having raised his gloved fist in support of Black Power, with his compatriot Tommie Smith, on the podium of the 200 m.
“Carlos and Smith have risked everything to defend human rights and their convictions, and they continue to inspire each generation. It is time for the Olympic and Paralympic movements to honor their courage rather than denounce their actions, “urged the signatories.
“The International Olympic and Paralympic Committees cannot continue to punish or dismiss athletes who speak out in defense of what they believe in, especially when these convictions embody the objectives of Olympism,” it is still affirmed.
Consequently, the USOPC calls on sports bodies to “transparent collaboration” with athletes and groups of athletes.
The current rules of the International Olympic Committee prohibit any “political, religious or racial demonstration or propaganda” at the Games.
A New Line For the American Committee
The letter on Saturday was sent in a context of protests, in the United States and around the world, against social injustices after the tragic death of George Floyd, a month ago in Minneapolis. The 46-year-old black man did not survive his arrest after a white policeman pressed his knee to his neck for more than eight minutes.
On June 9, the USOPC announced that it would challenge the rules prohibiting athletes from demonstrating politically at the Olympics, after hearing testimony from dozens of them and their proposals to combat racism.
But this position seems relatively new. In 2019, hammer thrower Gwen Berry and fencer Race Imboden were again sanctioned by the USOPC after protesting racial injustice at the Pan American Games in Lima.
After the USOPC took a stand on the death of George Floyd, Gwen Berry had asked for an “apology” to his federation.