No kneeling, no raising a fist, and no disrespect during medal ceremonies. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) released a three-page guideline on Thursday, Jan. 9, that reiterates Rule 50 of the Olympic Charter. It specified any type of protests will not be accepted.
Olympic athletes are banned from protesting on the field of play, in the Olympic Village, and during medal and other official ceremonies. However, they are allowed to express political opinions during press interviews outside the Village, in meetings, and on traditional and social media.
The IOC said in a statement about how the Olympics were designed to be apolitical and any gestures that prove otherwise destroy the dignity of competition. “When an individual makes their grievances, however legitimate, more important than the feelings of their competitors and the competition itself, the unity and harmony as well as the celebration of sport and human accomplishment are diminished,” said the IOC.
As the IOC said, the rules were established to keep a global focus on athletes’ performances and on international unity and harmony.
“We believe that the example we set by competing with the world’s best while living in harmony in the Olympic Village is a uniquely positive message to send to an increasingly divided world,” the IOC said in a statement. “This is why it is important, on both a personal and a global level, that we keep the venues, the Olympic Village, and the podium neutral and free from any form of political, religious or ethnic demonstrations.”
“The mission of the Olympic Games to bring the entire world together can facilitate the understanding of different views, but this can be accomplished only if everybody respects this diversity,” they said.
The opening ceremony of the Olympics is scheduled for July 24.