US Olympic Committee Allows Political Protests and Kneeling During Anthem

by Christopher Paslay

The USOPC has bowed to pressure from activists groups, and has placed a political agenda ahead of the interests of American athletes during the US Olympic trials.

According to an article in American Greatness: 

The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee said this week they will not sanction athletes for raising their fists or kneeling during the national anthem at Olympic trials, despite a decades-long policy banning protests at the official games.

The USOPC released a nine-page document Tuesday about the sort of ‘racial and social demonstrations’ that will and won’t be allowed.  Holding up a fist, kneeling during the anthem and wearing hats or face masks with phrases such as “Black Lives Matter” or words such as “equality” or “justice,” will be permitted, according to the document.

This decision goes against International Olympic Committee rules, however.  According to “Rule 50 Guidelines” developed by the IOC Athlete’s Commission: 

As athletes, we are passionate about our sports and achieving our sporting performance goals. For each and every one of us, that passion continues into everyday life, where we advocate for change on issues of great importance to us and our world. That desire to drive change can naturally make it very tempting to use the platform of an appearance at the Olympic Games to make our point. 

However, all of us are here at the Olympic Games because, one day, we dreamt of being an Olympian, and maybe even an Olympic champion. The unique nature of the Olympic Games enables athletes from all over the world to come together in peace and harmony. We believe that the example we set by competing with the world’s best while living in harmony in the Olympic Village is a uniquely positive message to send to an increasingly divided world. This is why it is important, on both a personal and a global level, that we keep the venues, the Olympic Village and the podium neutral and free from any form of political, religious or ethnic demonstrations. 

If we do not, the life’s work of the athletes around us could be tarnished, and the world would quickly no longer be able to look at us competing and living respectfully together, as conflicts drive a wedge between individuals, groups and nations. That is not to say that you should be silent about the issues you care deeply about, and below you will find a list of places where you can express your views at the Olympic Games. 

Where are protests and demonstrations not permitted during the Olympic Games?

At all Olympic venues, including:

  • On the field of play
  • In the Olympic Village
  • During Olympic medal ceremonies
  • During the Opening, Closing and other official Ceremonies

The USOPC doesn’t seem to care about this, however.  They’ve bowed to pressure from activists groups which want to put a political agenda ahead of the interests of American athletes during the US Olympic trials.  

Whether the USOPC will place political activism over honest athletic competition during the actual Olympic Games — promoting Black Lives Matter instead of celebrating America’s Olympians — remains to be seen. 

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