Olympic Committee Bans Black Lives Matter Apparel and Could Punish Protesting Athletes

Olympic Committee Bans Black Lives Matter Apparel and Could Punish Protesting Athletes
(Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

The International Olympic Committee is making no exceptions for “Black Lives Matter” when it comes to enforcing their Rule 50, which is designed to, “keep the venues, the Olympic Village and the podium neutral and free from any form of political, religious or ethnic demonstrations.” Similarly, the Olympic Committee has banned taking a knee at the Olympics.

Per the IOC rules, “If an athlete or participant is in breach of Rule 50 and the Olympic Charter, each incident will be evaluated by their respective National Olympic Committee, International Federation and the IOC, and disciplinary action will be taken on a case-by-case basis as necessary.”

The IOC did put out a report explaining their decision, which seems unnecessary given that this is a longstanding rule that is implemented for obvious reasons. However, in 2021, even the most obvious things that involve showing consideration for other human beings need to be re-explained. Towards that end, the IOC noted that after a survey of Olympic athletes, “70% of those athletes did not want protests on podiums, ceremonies, and fields of play.”

On the plus side, this will prevent a complete circus where athletes will feel political pressure to kneel and whether athletes chose to kneel or stand will be as big a story as their performance.

On the other hand, there are likely to be a few athletes that are so desperate for the spotlight that they’ll do anything. Those athletes won’t tell you the truth about it. They won’t say something like, “Oh absolutely, I wore my BlackLivesMatter shirt because I wanted ESPN to talk about me and a potential Nike contract despite the fact I came in dead last in Badminton. My agent said I needed to get my name out there, so I am willing to do whatever it takes!” This has always been about athletes getting attention for themselves, not accomplishing anything, or something as divisive as disrespecting the flag would have never been a part of it in the first place.

John Hawkins is the author of 101 Things All Young Adults Should Know. He also owns Linkiest.com.

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