Athletes participating in the 2021 Olympics will be allowed to demonstrate without fear of sanctions as long as they “peacefully and respectfully” do so in the name of social justice.
The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee made the new ruling on Thursday, changing previous guidelines that prohibited athletes from partaking in any “kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda” at Olympic sites, venues, or other areas.
Following the ruling, athletes will now be able to participate in demonstrations at Olympics events, including the field – where many athletes, following in the shoes of Colin Kaepernick, have protested at events by kneeling during the U.S. national anthem. Though initially performed to protest police brutality, Kaepernick’s protests quickly became a sounding call for the pro-Marxist Black Lives Matter movement.
“We have made the decision that team USA athletes will not be sanctioned by the USOPC for peacefully and respectfully demonstration in support of racial and social justice for all human beings,” stated USOPC CEO Sarah Hirshland. “First and foremost, it is critical to state unequivocally that human rights are not political, and peaceful calls for equity and equality must not be confused with divisive demonstrations.”
Hirshland singled out several Team USA athletes including John Carlos and Tommie Smith, who were reprimanded for famously raising their fists in an apparent “Black Power” gesture in the 1968 Olympics, stating that the organization “should have supported instead of condemned, and advocated for understanding instead of relying on previous precedent,” for which she apologized. Smith maintains that he was not making a “Black Power” salute but was instead saluting to human rights.
Hirshland also mentioned Gwen Berry, an athlete who raised her fist at the 2019 Pan American Games during the national anthem and spoke poorly of President Donald Trump in media interviews. Race Imboden, also mentioned by name, knelt when the national anthem was played.
“The USOPC’s decision recognizes that Team USA athletes serve as a beacon of inspiration and unity globally, and their voices have and will be a force for good and progress in our society,” Hirshland continued. “In the United States, we need to continue to use the platforms we have available to us to foster discussion, education and action for racial and social justice.”