Olympic Organizers Flummoxed by U.S. Decision to Back Athlete Protests

The Grind:
The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) decision to support athletes raising their fists or kneeling on the podium at next year’s Tokyo Games and beyond was met with polite obfuscation Friday by Olympic officials in Switzerland.

As Breitbart News reported, the U.S. move was in response to calls from a USOPC athlete group that demanded changes to Rule 50 of the IOC Olympic Charter, which prohibits inside-the-lines protests at the Games.

The Details:
It was Rule 50 that led to the exit of U.S. medalists Tommie Smith and John Carlos from the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City after the sprinters raised their fists on the podium.

The head of the IOC athlete commission, swimmer Kirsty Coventry of Zimbabwe, responded to the USOPC move by saying she would note it – but gave no immediate offical endorsement or approval.

Instead she said the majority of athletes believe in the right of free speech, which is “respected” at the Olympic Games (but only in certain settings) and “express support for preserving the ceremonies, the podium and the field of play.” Coventry then added:

The IOC Athletes’ Commission (AC) has received the statement from the Team USA Council on Racial and Social Justice which elaborates on racial and social problems in their country. Read more…

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