Last December, a decision was made to allow Olympic athletes to “peacefully and respectfully” engage in demonstrations for social and racial justice. In another decision made this past Tuesday, the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee released guidelines that layout which forms of protest are “acceptable” during the upcoming Olympic trials.
The Daily Wire recently reported that in this past December that the USOPC decided that athletes participating in the 2020 Olympic trials “will not be sanctioned for ‘peacefully and respectfully’ demonstrating in support of social justice causes,” and that the committee had plans to do away with any guidelines effectively preventing any kind of “demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda” at any Olympic official ceremonies or locations.
On Tuesday, the USOPC came out with its updated guidelines. Thus clearing the way for Olympic athletes to engage in protest, but the guidelines do quite severely limit the avenues athletes have for these demonstrations, according to ABC News.
“The USOPC released a nine-page document Tuesday to offer guidance about the sort of ‘facial and social demonstrations’ that will and won’t be allowed by the hundreds who will compete in coming months for spots on the U.S. team,” ABC News relayed. “The document comes three months after the federation, heeding calls from its athletes, determined it would not enforce longstanding rules that ban protests at the Olympics.”
The guidelines go on to state that it will be ok for athletes to raise their fists or kneel during the national anthem, and they will be allowed to wear “hats or face masks” with key phrases like “black lives matter,” “equality,” or “justice.” They will be barred from wearing any publically recognized symbol of hate and their protest can’t impede the field of play or cause trouble for other athletes in competition.
The initial thoughts of the USOPC, back in December, seemed to draw a hard line at “divisive demonstrations,” but in the new guidelines the committee has loosened the reigns and simply requires that all protests have the goal of “advancing racial and social justice; or promoting the human dignity of individuals or groups that have historically been underrepresented, minoritized, or marginalized in their respective societal context.”
Americans have shown a drastically reduced desire to watch sporting events that allow the athletes to push a social justice message. A perfect example of this is shown with the NBA in particular that lost a large multitude of viewers following the decision to give the ok for its athletes to engage in protests and demonstrations following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
The 2021 Olympic Games will take place in Tokyo, Japan. The following Winter Olympic Games are currently set to take place in Beijing, China where political protest is a bit more harshly regulated.