The International Olympic Committee announced taking a knee or raising a fist to protest will not be tolerated during the Tokyo Olympics.
The rule, which bans “demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda” in venues and any other Olympic area, had been under review, Reuters reported Wednesday. The IOC claimed it would keep the rule in place for the July 23 Olympics after consulting athletes.
Taking a knee during the Tokyo Olympics or lifting a fist in support of racial equality will be punished as the International Olympic Committee on Wednesday maintained its ban on athletes’ protests inside stadiums, at ceremonies and on podiums. https://t.co/wVfbt3gv3K
— Reuters Sports (@ReutersSports) April 21, 2021
IOC’s Athletes’ commission chief, Kirsty Coventry, claimed players were in favor of the ban.
“I would not want something to distract from my competition and take away from that,” Coventry said during an online presentation, according to Reuters. “That is how I still feel today.” (RELATED: Postponed Tokyo Olympics To Happen ‘With Or Without COVID,’ Olympics Official Shares)
Coventry revealed athletes who do choose to protest will be punished.
“Yes, that is correct,” she reportedly said during the presentation when asked about sanctions or punishment.
“That is also because of the majority of athletes we spoke to,” Coventry claimed, the outlet reported. “That is what they are requesting for.”
The consultation reportedly began in June of 2020 and included 3,500 athletes, according to Reuters. 70% of athletes did not want protesting to be allowed at podiums or on fields of play, Coventry reportedly said.
Kneeling as a form of protest came back into the picture in 2016 when NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the playing of the national anthem. Kaepernick claimed he kneeled as a form of protest against racial inequality.