We have seen a disgusting trend in American sports all over the US: the protesting of the National Anthem or American flag. I’m sure you have seen it, heard of it, or maybe even personally know someone who has participated in such an activity.
Thankfully, there is one major sporting event that has banned any such action. For just about as long as the Olympics have existed, political, racially charged, and religious statements and actions have been condemned and barred from any and all events and arenas, thanks to Olympic Charter Rule 50.
That is, until now.
Yes, they will still be prohibited at the Olympic games themselves. But when it comes to the Olympic trials, which will occur here in the United States before this summer’s Tokyo Olympiad, new guidance has been made that allows it – that is, if it liberal enough.
According to the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee or USOPC, athletes’ right “to advocate for racial and social justice aligns with the fundamental values of equality that define Team USA and the Olympic and Paralympic movements.”
Therefore, actions such as “kneeling on the podium or at the start line during the national anthem” will be permitted.
Athletes competing in the trials and for the right to represent America at this summer’s Olympic games will also be allowed to wear a hat with “phrases such as ‘Black Lives Matter’ or ‘Trans Lives Matter’ or words such as ‘equality’ or ‘respect;’ hold up their fist “at the start line or on the podium,” and “Orally” advocate for “equity/equal rights for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) individuals, or other historically underrepresented, marginalized or minoritized populations.”
However, they are not allowed to be violent. They are not allowed to “distort” or deface any national flag. Nor are they allowed to wear a hat with a “hate symbol or hate speech on it.” “Hand gestures affiliated with hate groups” is also not permitted at the trials, as is any protest that is “aimed explicitly against a specific organization, person or group of people.”
Does anyone else see a problem with this? Or is it just me that imagines a difference in the definition of hate speech or action here?
Furthermore, this new guidance effectively nullifies everything the Olympics was created to do: to develop national and international unity.
According to International Olympic Committee, Rule 50 was put in place to keep the focus of the Olympic Games “on the athletes’ performances, sport and the international unity and harmony that the Olympic Movement seeks to advance. Athletes as the Olympic Games are part of a global community with many different views, lifestyles and values. The mission of the Olympic games to bring the entire world together can facilitate the understanding of different views, but this can be accomplished only if everybody respects this diversity.”
The IOC guidelines continued, stating that “sport” must remain “neutral and must be separate from political, religious or any other type of interference. Specifically, the focus for the field of play and related ceremonies must be on celebrating athletes’ performance, and showcasing sport and its values.”
And that is precisely why, for decades now, “No kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas.”
Thankfully, this rule will still be in play for the official Olympic Games this year, as the IOC has already announced such last year.
But for the trials, it’s a different story.
Then again, as Olympian and US hammer thrower Gwen Berry has noted, this new change, as well as the many who support it, such as herself, may allow those who wish to violate Rule 50 in the official games in Tokyo to get off the hook relatively easily, since it seems that the whole of the US Team supports such action.
Berry said, “Real issues are highlighted when people have support. When people don’t have support, they’ll just hide in the shadows and they won’t say anything. The fact that we do have support now, you never know how somebody will flourish and the issues some people will talk about.”
For the Olympic Games of 2021, it seems Team USA, the one team that is supposed to be known for unity and cohesive diversity, will instead be parading for division and hostility.