IOC to include kneeling Olympians in highlights, social media after initial exclusion
After images of Olympic football players kneeling down were excluded from official trailers and social media, the IOC announced on Thursday that they would be shown in the future.
Players from five women’s football teams knelt in support of racial justice on Wednesday, the first day she was allowed at the Olympics after a decades-long ban.
The concession under Rule 50 of the Olympic Charter, which has long prohibited any manifestation of athletes inside competition venues, was finally authorized this month by the International Olympic Committee.
The IOC has attempted to reconcile the application of the rule while recognizing, and sometimes celebrating, the iconic image of American sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos each raising a black-gloved fist on the medal podium at the Olympic Games in Mexico City. from 1968.
On Wednesday, the British and Chilean teams knelt ahead of the opener and were followed by players from the United States, Sweden and New Zealand in subsequent kick-offs. The Australian team posed with a flag of the indigenous peoples of Australia.
These images were excluded from the official Tokyo Olympics Highlights package provided by the IOC to media, including the Associated Press, who were unable to broadcast the games live.
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Official Olympic social media also did not include photos of the athlete’s activism.
“The IOC covers the Games on its owned and operated platforms and such moments will also be included,” the Olympic body said Thursday in an apparent change in policy.
The IOC said hundreds of millions of viewers could have seen the footage by watching networks which have official broadcast rights and “can use it however they see fit.”
Demonstrations remain banned on the podiums
The decades-long ban on all demonstrations was relaxed by the IOC three weeks ago when it was clear that some athletes – especially in football and track and field – would voice their opinions on the pitch in Japan.
Two reviews of Rule 50 in the previous 18 months by the IOC’s own Athletes’ Commission had concluded that Olympic competitors did not want distractions on their playing field.
The new focus allows for knee or fist raising during pre-match or pre-race presentations, but not on the medal ceremony podiums. The IOC will always discipline athletes who protest on the podium.
Sport governing bodies still have a veto, and FINA swimming has said its athletes are banned on the pool deck from any gesture interpreted as protest.