American Athletes Call on Olympics to Allow Protests At Events

The International Olympic Committee has a rule prohibiting protests

Tommie Smith and John Carlos, gold and bronze medalists in the 200-meter run at the 1968 Olympic Games, engage in a victory stand protest against unfair treatment of Black people in the United States.
Tommie Smith and John Carlos, gold and bronze medalists in the 200-meter run at the 1968 Olympic Games, engage in a victory stand protest against unfair treatment of Black people in the United States.
Bettmann Archive
By Evan Bleier / June 29, 2020 10:07 am

A group of current American athletes and 1968 U.S. Olympian John Carlos are urging the International Olympic Committee to allow protests at events.

A letter signed by members of the Athletes’ Advisory Council and the ’68 200-meter bronze medalist asks the IOC and International Paralympic Committee to abolish a rule that prohibits protesting. Instead, the AAC wants the IOC and IPC to “develop a new policy in direct collaboration with independent, worldwide athlete representatives that protects athletes’ freedom of expression at the Olympic and Paralympic Games.”

Currently, 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.”

The groups want that rule changed so that athletes are allowed to protest from the medal stand the same way Carlos and gold medalist Tommie Smith did in the summer of ’68. After raising their fists to protest racial inequities in America, Carlos and Smith were suspended and sent home.

“Carlos and Smith risked everything to stand for human rights and what they believed in, and they continue to inspire generation after generation to do the same,” the letter states. “It is time for the Olympic and Paralympic movement to honor their bravery rather than denounce their actions.”

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