IOC chief backs motion to examine ways athletes can protest racism

Geneva/Tokyo, Jun 10 (efe-epa).- The head of the International Olympic Committee on Wednesday supported a motion to examine different ways in which athletes can protest against racism during sporting events.

Speaking after a meeting with the Committee’ executive board, Thomas Bach said non-discrimination was a pillar of the Olympic Charter.

“We have fully supported the initiative of the Olympic Athletes’ Commission…to explore different ways on how Olympic athletes can express their support for the principles enshrined in the Olympic charter in a dignified way,” he added.

He warned against supporting divisive forms of demonstration, however.

The IOC has historically been opposed to forms of political protest during the Games.

Perhaps one of the most famous political protests at a sporting event occurred during the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City, when American athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised their fists in an apparent black-power salute while standing on the podium during the national anthem.

In response, the IOC expelled them from the Olympic Village.

In recent weeks, a number of sporting figures have used their platforms to protest against police brutality in the wake of the death of black American man George Floyd at the hands of a white police officer in Minneapolis.

One of the common forms of protest in the wave of anti-racist movements spreading throughout the United States and Europe is to take a knee, a gesture reminiscent of Colin Kaepernick’s actions as a 49ers player in 2016 when he kneeled during the US national anthem to protest police brutality.

Kaepernick faced major backlash from the NFL and President Donald Trump and is currently a free agent in the sport.

Bach declined to speculate what kind of protests would be discussed by the Athletes’ Commission.

Any decisions are likely to be applied in time for Tokyo, which is set to go ahead in 2021 following its delay due to the coronavirus pandemic.

It would not be the only changed feature of the Games.

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