2020 Olympics Blocks Political Protests: No Kneeling, Gestures, Or Armbands

2020 Olympics Blocks Political Protests: No Kneeling, Gestures, Or Armbands


At this year’s Golden Globes, host Ricky Gervais took aim at the celebrities in attendance. In his opening speech, the dark-humored comedian told his fellow famous faces to cut out all of the politics and to get on with the show. “If you do win an award tonight, don’t use it as a platform to make a political speech,” he quipped. “You’re in no position to lecture the public about anything. You know nothing about the real world.”

That didn’t stop winner after winner from addressing issues ranging from climate change to abortion rights to the raging fires in Australia. It was clear that people with a platform are going to use it to speak on issues that they believe are important, but The International Olympic Committee (IOC) shared its three-page guidelines for the 2020 Tokyo games and they say political protests are out.

“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, according to CBS News. “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.”

In the guidelines, they listed a few examples of what is considered to be a political protest. “Displaying any political messaging, including signs or armbands, gestures of a political nature, like a hand gesture or kneeling, refusal to follow the Ceremonies protocol,” they wrote. These rules come over 50 years after sprinter Tommie Smith, who won gold, and John Carlos, who won bronze, raised their fists during the medal ceremony as The Star-Spangled Banner played. Their gesture was in recognition of racial discrimination and for human rights, and they were both recently inducted into the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Hall of Fame. Meanwhile, the Tokyo Olympic Games are set to kick off on July 24.