The International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced yesterday that the making of any political statement would be penalized during the Tokyo Olympic Games according to the rules of the committee’s rule book. Rule 50 of the rule book prohibits “any kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda” by the athletes during the course of the Games and this applies under all circumstances while they are taking part.
It’s well-known that in recent times, there has been an increase in political statements with the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement gaining in importance. There have been various voices and calls by athletes and even international federation chiefs such as the President of World Athletics, Sebastian Coe that athletes should be allowed to make political statements through peaceful gestures during the Games.
German Athletes Body releases statement
Germany’s athletes body called Athleten Deutschland released a statement today condemning the decision to ban political statements saying, “The recommendations to revise Rule 50 miss the core problem of the blanket restriction of freedom of expression. Athletes should be free to peacefully declare their support for the values of our free and democratic society at any time. Peaceful protest must be possible, also in the arena. Athleten Deutschland concurs in so far that the sporting achievements of athletes should be honoured appropriately and undisturbed. However, human rights, such as freedom of expression, are universal.”
The Managing director of the body Johannes Herber also spoke to reporters and said, “The IOC has attached greater importance to maintaining political neutrality than to the fundamental rights of individual athletes. Should German athletes decide to peacefully stand up for fundamental values such as the fight against racism during the Olympic Games, they can rely on the legal support of Athleten Deutschland in the event of sanctions.”