— Published 31 March 2021

Athletes will be able to raise their fists

A giant leap. The United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) wants to wring its neck out of rule 50 of the Olympic Charter on the ban on manifesting political, racial or religious views at the Games. They unveiled on Tuesday, March 30th, all the rules that will be applied during the Olympic and Paralympic selections for the Tokyo Games. For the first time, athletes will have the right to voice their protest on the pitch. They will be able to raise their fists or kneel during the national anthem, for example. And they will be allowed to demonstrate their fight for racial justice. As early as last December, the USOPC had accepted the principle of letting athletes express an opinion on the competition field. The American body has now defined the framework and the rules. According to the document sent to American athletes, the demonstrations could be done by word, by gesture, or even via messages inscribed on the clothes. The USOPC explains that it will be possible, for example, to wear a cap or jersey marked with the slogans “Black Lives Matter” or “Trans Lives Matter”. Clarification: this departure from the Olympic charter concerns only the selection events. At the Games, the expression of political, racial or religious opinion will continue to be prohibited and liable to penalties.