2020 Tokyo Summer Olympic Games
18-year-old Luciana Alvarado, Costa Rica’s first gymnast to qualify for the Olympic Games, made a name for herself in Tokyo by paying tribute to the Black Lives Matter Movement without violating the new IOC and Toyko 2020 rules prohibiting “demonstration or political, religious, or racial propaganda in Olympic venues.”
Alvarado’s solution was to incorporate her tribute into her artistic gymnastics routine.
She ended ending her qualifying-round routine kneeling, with her head thrown back and her right fist raised to the sky.
Alvarado had told the Associated Press before taking to the mat that her floor routine would end with a deliberate nod to the Black Lives Matter Movement and that she hoped it would “highlight the importance of equal rights on a global stage, and champion treating all with respect and dignity.”
The Independent reported that Alvarado told the podcast GymCastic on Friday before her event, “I feel like if you do something that brings everyone together, you know, and you see that here, like ‘Yes, you’re one of mine, you understand things,’ the importance of everyone treated with respect and dignity and everyone having the same rights because we’re all the same and we’re all beautiful and amazing.”
Alvarado’s tribute to the BLM Movement comes after the International Olympic Committee’s somewhat confusing series of recent rules on freedom of expression at the Tokyo Games. While demonstrations on the medal stand are prohibited, the IOC had recently updated its policies to allow free expression on the field of play, but only before competition begins and as long as the expression is “consistent with the Fundamental Principles of Olympism.” Then, last week, the IOC and Tokyo 2020 organizers announced they were prohibiting their social media teams from posting pictures of athletes taking a knee after the women’s soccer teams from Great Britain, Chile, the United States, Sweden, and New Zealand kneeled before kick-off, and the Australian women’s team posed with the Australian Aboriginal Flag.
The CBC reported that “Those images were excluded from official Olympic highlights and social media channels, but the IOC has since reversed that decision.”
Alvarado earned a score of 12.166 and finished 66th in prelims, which was not enough to move on to the finals. But the impact of her routine was felt around the world.
Costa Rican gymnast #LucianaAlvarado says she paid a tribute to the Black Lives Matter movement in her historic #Olympics performance to highlight the importance of equal rights on a global stage. My @NBCNews latest ⬇️https://t.co/D0VLNcF7PI
— Cynthia Silva (@ItsCynthiaSilva) July 26, 2021
— ABC News (@ABC) July 27, 2021
✊🏾✊🏾✊🏾 She found a way.
Luciana Alvarado incorporated the gesture as an artistic element in her floor routine, so the IOC might not be able to enforce any sort of penalty against her. #LucianaAlvarado#BLM #TokyoOlympics https://t.co/vTNLx6BqBg
— Black Lives Matter TOKYO (@blmtokyojp) July 27, 2021
JO Tokyo : Alvarado le poing en l'air pour "Black Lives Matter" https://t.co/EVfBQh65eR
— Africanews Français (@africanewsfr) July 26, 2021