LA 2028 Olympic Chair To IOC; Let the Athletes Speak

The athletes want a voice.

For months, there have been global protests featuring athletes’ speaking out against police brutality. Sports owners have accepted the fact that their employees are speaking out. The International Olympic Committee has been rather slow to understand that athletes want to be more than just seen as playing a sport. The head of the 2028 Los Angeles Olympic Committee Casey Wasserman wants to change Rule 50 which prevents Olympians from speaking out. In January, IOC President Thomas Bach said the Olympics “must never be a platform to advance political or any other potentially divisive ends”. How Bach and the IOC plan to punish Olympians who speak their minds is unknown. Bach should be reminded of some Olympics history, particularly in the Olympics history of his homeland Germany. In 1936, Adolf Hitler attempted to use the Berlin Games for propaganda purposes and legitimize his rule of the country. In 1972, there was the Munich Massacre where members of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s offshoot Black September killed 11 Israelis.

The Olympic movement threw South Africa out in 1964 because of apartheid. There was the African countries boycott of the 1976 Montreal Games. American President Jimmy Carter ordered a boycott of the 1980 Moscow Summer Games because the Soviet Union refused to leave Afghanistan. A good number of western countries followed Carter’s lead. The Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact countries did not go to the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Games. Bach has to remember the 1968 Mexico City podium protest by two Americans Thommie Smith and John Carlos along with the Australian Peter Norman protesting among other things poverty both in the United States and around the world. Bach took partial credit when North Korea and South Korea fielded a combined team in the 2018 South Korea Winter Olympics. The Olympics event is political. The days of athletes should be seen and not speak are over.

(Jean-Christophe Bott/Keystone via AP