Protesters Are Legally Allowed To Ruin The Olympics

Photo: REUTERS/Nacho Doce

JP Carroll National Security & Foreign Affairs Reporter

The Rio 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro may be in danger of constant disruption by protesters since a Brazilian federal judge ruled Monday night that protesters can peacefully voice dissent at the Games.

Brazilian Federal Judge João Augusto Carneiro Araújo decided that to block protesters from demonstrating their discontent with the Games is to prevent them from freely expressing themselves. While Brazilians opposed to the Olympic Games see the judge’s ruling as a victory for free speech, Olympic organizers will likely appeal the judge’s decision.

The judge’s ruling stands in sharp contrast with the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) charter, which states in part, “no kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas.” International Olympic Committee spokesman Mark Adams added in response to the ruling that, “I hope everyone understands that the Games should not become a platform for political debate.”

Nevertheless, the judge contended that the IOC and the Brazilian government’s limitations on protests during the Games, “does not appear to ban peaceful demonstrations of a political nature through posters, use of T-shirts and other lawful means in official sites of the Olympic and Paralympic Games Rio 2016.”

Since the August 5 Opening Ceremony there has been reporting of how protesters are being treated by Olympic organizers. The Washington Post reported on August 7 that a couple of protesters had been ousted from the Games for expressing their desire to get interim Brazilian President Michel Temer out of office. Aside from the IOC Charter, a Brazilian law on the books since May, limits the ability of protestors to express their political discontent at Olympic Games venues during Rio 2016.

Brazil is currently in the midst of a long-running political crisis. President Dilma Rousseff was suspended in May and faces impeachment and the resignation of multiple cabinet ministers. Brazil is also contending with a public health crisis related to the Zika virus.

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