IOC in talks about easing protest ban at Olympics

The IOC had earlier issued guidelines reiterating its support of Rule 50, which bans inside-the-lines protests at the Games.

An ageless image | African-American athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos made history on the podium following the 200 metre race at the 1968 Summer Olympics. Wearing a black glove each, the two men raised a fist in salute, a symbol of black power as Australian runner and silver medallist Peter Norman stood in solidarity with the men. Smith and Carlos were suspended by the U.S. team following the protest, and kicked out of the Olympic Village.   -  Getty Images

Calls to do away with the International Olympic Committee's 'Rule 50', which bans inside-the-lines protests at the Games, have grown louder recently. Major sports federations — including FIFA, the ICC and the National Football League — have softened their stance regarding athletes protesting and allowed them to express their views in the field of play.  

Earlier this year the IOC had issued guidelines reiterating its support of the rule and there has not been any indication since about amending its stance.

However, in a teleconference on Wednesday, IOC president Thomas Bach said that consultations on the topic are underway between athletes' groups around the world.

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“The IOC Executive Board supports the initiative of the IOC Athletes’ Commission to explore different ways of how Olympic athletes can express their support for the principles enshrined in the Olympic Charter, including at the time of the Olympic Games, and respecting the Olympic spirit,” Bach said.

“We also agree at the same time with the Athletes' Commission that we must always respect the Olympic spirit, and this means we must make a difference between such support for the principles enshrined in the Olympic charter and potentially divisive demonstrations.”

When asked if athletes at the postponed 2020 Tokyo Games could go down on one knee to show their support for the Floyd protests, Bach said “it would not be fair” if he made a statement and said the IOC will let the athlete commission and athletes discuss among themselves and come up with relevant proposals.

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