Two Olympians hailing from China are looking down the barrel of a probe from the International Olympic Committee due to an alleged violation of Rule 50 due to their decision to sport pins with Mao Zedong’s visage on them at their medal ceremony.
Rule 50 from the IOC explicitly prohibits any political demonstrations or protests at the Olympic Games. For the Tokyo games specifically, the International Olympic Committee loosened the rules slightly, allowing the powerhouse athletes an option to protest or demonstrate, in general, but still maintaining the prohibition on political displays on the field of play and on the podium at all medal ceremonies.
“No kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas,” states Rule 50. Any athletes that are declared to have been in violation of Rule 50 could face disqualification or be forced to withdraw themselves from all competition. In cases taken to the extreme, the IOC still has the right to remove all credentials for an entire nation’s delegation, in the same way the body handles proven allegations of doping.
The pair coming from China is currently facing an inquiry over their decisions for medal ceremony attire.
“Bao Shanju and Zhong Tianshi won gold in the women’s sprint in track cycling on Monday, and when they took the podium to receive their medals, both were pictured wearing red Mao pins,” stated Fox News.
The duo was sporting the normal Chinese team uniform consisting of a white track jacket and a red face mask. However, the pair seemed to have added the Mao pins directly next to the Chinese flag, which is stitched onto the left breast of the sports jacket.
“Badges showing Mao’s profile were worn by hundreds of millions of people in the 1960s to show their loyalty to the Communist Party chairman and the ultra-radical Cultural Revolution he launched in 1966,” stated Fox. As per the current IOC rules, the pins could possibly be seen as a “political agenda.”
“We have contacted the Chinese Olympic Committee, asked them for a report about the situation,” stated a spokesperson for the IOC Tuesday evening.
Reportedly, the IOC is also examining the case of Raven Saunders, who is the Team USA shot putter who took second place in their event this past weekend. Allegedly, Saunders faced the Chinese flag during their national anthem and raised her arms over her head in an “X” during the American national anthem as part of a medal-stand demonstration seemingly aimed at racial inequality and “oppression.”
Currently, the US Olympic Committee has not stated whether or not Saunders is under investigation by the IOC, but they did say that they do support the right to protest, also noting that Saunders “was respectful of her competitors and did not violate our rules related to demonstration.”