In a statement titled “Resolution of the IOC Executive Board with regard to racism and inclusion,” the International Olympic Committee – just hours after confirming it would continue to outlaw protecting and punish athletes who do so – said that it “condemns racism in the strongest terms.”
“The IOC stands for non-discrimination as one of the founding pillars of the Olympic Movement,” the statement says. “The Olympic Games are a very powerful global demonstration against racism and for inclusivity. They are a celebration of the unity of humankind in all our diversity. Athletes from all 206 National Olympic Committees (NOCs) and the IOC Refugee Olympic Team all enjoy the same rights, respecting each other and with the same rules applying to everyone without any kind of discrimination. All these athletes live peacefully together in the Olympic Village, sharing their meals, their thoughts and their emotions.”
In the wake of the national calls for change in the United States following the police killing of unarmed black man George Floyd, sports organizations have begun to loosen their rules against protests and demonstrations.
Even the NFL, infamous for its handling of former quarterback Colin Kaepernick‘s kneeling demonstrations, reversed its stance last week. But the IOC made clear this week that it would still outlaw protests on the podium or medal stand at Tokyo 2021, according to The Telegraph.
IOC president Thomas Bach did say in the statement Wednesday, however, that the organization’s Athletes’ Commission will “talk with athletes around the world to explore how Olympians can express themselves at the Games while keeping the Olympic Charter in mind.” The commission is headed by Zimbabwean Olympic gold medalist in swimming Kirsty Coventry.
Rule 50 of the Olympic Charter says: “no kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas.”
Earlier this week, the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee said that it would create an athlete group to examine its internal policies, including the right to protest. Prior to that, it released a statement condemning racism and saying it supports athletes pursuing equality, but the statement was written off as hypocritical in light of last year’s decision to put two athletes on probation after protesting peacefully at Pan Ams.