Kneeling, signs of protest OK at U.S. Olympic Trials

Mar 24, 2020; Tokyo, Japan; Olympic rings monument at Rainbow Bridge, Odaiba, Tokyo. On Monday the IOC announced that the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics Games would be postponed due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. Mandatory Credit: Yukihito Taguchi-USA TODAY Sports

The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee gave approval on Tuesday for Team USA athletes to make statements or gestures in support of racial and social justice at specified events.

The new rules apply to future U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Trials events but not to the Olympic and Paralympic Games themselves.

In a document for athletes, the USOC said competitors won’t face any discipline as long as a racial or social justice demonstration “is specifically aimed at promoting the human dignity of individuals or groups that have historically been underrepresented, minoritized, or marginalized in their respective societal context.”

Acceptable demonstrations include wearing apparel with phrases such as “Black Lives Matter” or words such as “equality”; holding up a fist at the starting line or on the podium; kneeling on the podium or starting line during the playing of the national anthem; or orally advocating for equal rights for “Black, Indigenous, and People of Color individuals,” among others, the document reads.

Read More: Outside spectators to be barred from Tokyo Olympics

Not permitted will be “expressions that advocate against other people, their dignity, or their rights. This may include hate speech, racist propaganda, or threatening, abusive, or discriminatory remarks,” according to the document.

That includes wearing apparel with hate speech printed on it, making hand gestures affiliated with hate groups, defacing a national flag, or advocating for something that doesn’t reflect a racial or social justice cause.

“I have confidence you’ll make the best decision for you, your sport and your fellow competitors,” wrote Sarah Hirshland, the CEO of the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee, in a letter to the athletes.
“Our Olympic and Paralympic community, including alumni athletes, current athletes and future generations of hopefuls, is unique in its diversity — in race, gender, background and perspectives — but we are united as members of Team USA and we are a powerful force for good.”

–Field Level Media