USOPC Releases Protest Rules For Tokyo Olympic Games

The United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC) recently released its “demonstration rules” for the Tokyo Games, essentially its rules regarding protests for the U.S. delegation in Tokyo.

The rules outline what is to be considered appropriate based on a “collaborative effort between the Team USA Council on Racial and Social Justice and USOPC.”

The USOPC does acknowledge, however, that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and International Paralympic Committee (IPC) rules govern all Games participants, and they may be much different and applied much differently.

Permitted actions in the “Racial & Social Justice Demonstrations,” area are defined as: “A Demonstration, which does not include any Impermissible Elements, that is explicitly aimed at (1) advancing racial and social justice; or (2) promoting the human dignity of individuals or groups that have historically been underrepresented, minoritized, or marginalized in their respective societal context.”

Among the permitted actions are:

  • Wearing a hat or face mask with phrases such as ‘Black Lives Matter’ or ‘Trans Lives Matter’ or words such ‘equality,’ ‘justice,’ ‘peace,’ ‘respect,’ ‘solidarity,’ or ‘inclusion.’
  • Orally advocating for equity/equal rights for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) individuals,
  • Holding up one’s fist at the start line or on the podium.
  • Kneeling on the podium or at the start line during the national anthem.
  • Advocating for equal treatment of underrepresented, marginalized, or minoritized groups around the world, or against systemic barriers to such equal treatment.
  • Advocating for communities free from police violence, or against systemic police discrimination against Black individuals or other marginalized populations.

In these instances, “The USOPC will not sanction Participants who engage in R&S Demonstrations at Games Venues.”

The list of impermissible actions includes any demonstration that:

  • (a) advocates specifically against other people, their dignity, or their rights, which may include Hate Speech, Racist Propaganda, or threatening, abusive, or Discriminatory Remarks;
  • (b) physically impedes or discourages Games or medal ceremony participation by another Participant;
  • (c) causes physical harm to others or to property;
  • or (d) violates applicable laws.

Further examples of impermissible actions provided by the USOPC were as follows:

  • Wearing a hat or face mask with a hate symbol or hate speech on it. *A list of recognized hate symbols can be found at
  • Using language expressing hatred or Discriminatory Remarks towards a historically minoritized or marginalized group, including but not limited to Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC), LGBTQ+ individuals, and individuals with disabilities.
  • Making hand gestures affiliated with hate groups, like white supremacist or terrorist signs.
  • Violent protests or acts that damage property at the Games Venue or physically threaten or harm other people.
  • Actions/behaviors physically impeding athletes’ right to compete, such as blocking lanes by laying on a track or otherwise interfering with a competition.
  • Display of historically discriminatory signs or flags, such as the Confederate flag.
  • Defacing, distorting, or causing physical harm to a national flag.
  • Protests aimed explicitly against a specific country, organization, person, or group of people.

“If a Participant engages in a Demonstration that includes Impermissible Elements at a Games Venue, then the USOPC will determine a proportionate consequence for the violation of these Rules based on the severity of the violation,” the USOPC says.

There could potentially be a hearing, if requested by the protestor, with sanctions ranging from a warning to loss of funding or the requirement of a formal apology.

Overall, the USOPC states six separate times that it is not the ultimate arbiter on protests at the Games—that distinction belongs to the IOC and IPC.

The USOPC also warns athletes that any reaction from third parties to protests will likely occur and it may not be able to prevent them from making statements, actions, etc.

“Participants should be aware of the possibility that third parties may react to a R&S Demonstration themselves, that some of these reactions may be negative, that the USOPC will not be able to prevent those third parties from making statements or taking actions of their own, and that each Participant must make their own personal decision about the risks and benefits that may be involved. The USOPC has resources available through Athlete Services to support athletes (e.g., mental health, security).”

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Frustrated Olympic Fan
1 year ago

I got news for you. You may have deemed certain things to be permissible, but the Olympic Committee, you know the one that isn’t governed by politics has said otherwise. So in my opinion, I don’t think it’s a wise choice you’ve made in letting athletes think they’ll get away with kneeling during the anthem or any of that stuff. The representatives of the Olympics in Tokyo have already stated that they will throw out any athlete doing this. And it’s disgusting that you have brought anything into this. If North Korea can march in with South Korea by putting all differences aside, then there’s not a single reason or excuse that you can give for not doing the same.… Read more »

Distance Per Stroke
1 year ago

What a joke lmao. ADA says anti-Antifa is a hate symbol.

M d e
1 year ago

Might not be the most popular opinion, which is fine, but I’m usually all or nothing on this.

Always going to be borderline cases, then it comes down to who gets to decide what’s ok and what isn’t. And one persons terrorist is another’s freedom fighter, especially at an international event like the olympics.

I’ve always been of the opinion that if you’re going to let people say their piece then let them. But you have to accept some people are going to say stuff you don’t want to hear.

Reply to  M d e
1 year ago

It’s a matter of inclusionary Vs exclusionary, it’s a pretty easy line to draw.. the superiority of the white race is obviously exclusionary and thus not permitted.. terrorism and terrorists are usually of the same type of opinion, just insert another race, gender or creed.

Awsi Dooger
1 year ago

Great decision. Naturally the lies and fear crowd will be trembling

1 year ago

Why the protesters just give up their spots to the less advantage people instead? Otherwise you are just lip service.

Last edited 1 year ago by hog4oc
Reply to  hog4oc
1 year ago

Maybe they should just be quiet?

1 year ago

I…have no words for their stupid choices…..this is going to completely ruin the Olympic game experience 😑😖

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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