The International Olympic Committee on Wednesday approved a continued ban on protests and demonstrations at the Olympic Games, including during medal ceremonies and competitions.
IOC president Thomas Bach told reporters that the IOC executive board “unanimously approved” a recommendation of its own Athletes’ Commission, which initiated a 10-month review of the IOC’s protest rules amid a widespread racial justice movement in the United States.
Kirsty Coventry, the chairwoman of the Athletes’ Commission, revealed the recommendation at a virtual news conference on Wednesday. The Athletes’ Commission compiled a 42-page report outlining its stance, which it said was based on consultations and a survey of 3,547 athletes from around the world.
It called for the IOC to “increase opportunities for athletes’ expression during the Games,” but to “preserve the podium, field of play and official ceremonies” as protest-free.
The IOC has not decided how athletes would be punished for protests. The Athletes’ Commission recommended that the IOC’s legal team “clarify, in due course, the range of sanctions that would be imposed for a breach of the rule.”
It also recommended that the IOC rewrite the rule to clarify it. But the gist will be the same. Coventry was asked: “So essentially, nothing really changes for athletes as far as field of play, ceremonies, podiums are concerned … is that correct?”
“Yes,” she said, “that’s correct.”
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