Olympic Athletes Want The Right To Protest

Stifling speech, IOC style.

Global protests and athletes’ speaking out against police brutality is about to meet the International Olympic Committee. John Carlos, who staged a political protest at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, and the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee Athletes Advisory Council is calling on the IOC to get rid of Rule 50 which prohibits protests at all Olympic sites. The Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport and Global Athlete agrees with Carlos. 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 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 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 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. Countries use the Olympics for various reasons including raising their global profiles.

The Olympic rings are seen Monday, March 30, 2020, in Tokyo. The Tokyo Olympics will open next year in the same time slot scheduled for this year’s games. Tokyo organizers said Monday the opening ceremony will take place on July 23, 2021. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)