The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is hoping to avoid any political statements during the upcoming 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo, Japan. On Thursday, January 9, the IOC announced its guidelines which outlined what type of protests will not be permitted during the Olympics and medal ceremonies.
Athletes are prohibited by the Olympic Charter’s Rule 50 from taking a political stand in the field of play.
That means there will be no kneeling during the national anthems, no hand gestures with political meaning, and no disrespect at medal ceremonies.
“It is a fundamental principle that sport is neutral and must be separate from political, religious or any other type of interference,” the IOC guidelines read. The hope is to keep “the focus for the field of play and related ceremonies must be on celebrating athletes’ performance.”
Athletes will still be able to make political statements or discuss political issues and their beliefs during official media appearances and obligations, but events tied directly to the competition will prohibit any political stances.
Any athlete who breaks the protest rules will have to face three rounds of disciplinary action — by the IOC, a sport’s governing body and a national Olympic body.
During the Pan-American Games in August 2019, two American athletes were reprimanded by the U.S. Olympic Committee for protesting on the medal podium — fencer Race Imboden, who kneeled on the podium, and hammer thrower Gwen Berry who raised a fist. Both of the athletes were placed on probation for 12 months.
The Summer Olympics, known officially as the Games of the XXXII Olympiad, are scheduled to take place from 24 July to 9 August 2020.