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International Games
Sunday, July 19, 2020
IOC Athletes' Commission to Launch Survey on Olympic Protests

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) Athletes' Commission is to widen its consultation process on protests at the Olympic Games by launching a survey to gain feedback from a greater number of athletes.

In an update following the latest IOC Athletes' Commission call, vice-chair Danka Barteková said the survey, due to be released by the end of the European summer, would allow the body to obtain responses "directly from the wider athlete community".

Pressure has grown on the IOC to relax Rule 50, which bars athletes from protesting at Olympic venues and sites during the Games, in light of worldwide demonstrations following the death of George Floyd in the United States.

The IOC announced last month that its Athletes' Commission would "have dialogue with athletes around the world to explore different ways for how Olympic athletes can express their support for the principles enshrined in the Olympic Charter in a dignified way".

Barteková said the process had started as the IOC Athletes' Commission had held talks on the issue with other similar athlete groups, including those representing Panam Sports, the United States, Ireland, and Canada.

The London 2012 Olympic shooting bronze medalist said the survey gives the Commission the chance to reach a greater number of athletes to gauge their opinions on the controversial rule.

"We want your input and your help in extending the reach of the consultation," Barteková said.

"What ideas do you have as athletes and athlete representatives about how we can tackle any kind of discrimination?

"How can we give athletes a platform during the Games to be vocal about what’s important to them?"

Rule 50 of the Olympic Charter states: "No kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas."

Under Rule 50 guidelines developed by the Athletes' Commission, announced in January, competitors who demonstrate at the Games had been threatened with disciplinary action.

Protests are defined in the guidelines as "displaying any political messaging, including signs or armbands", "gestures of a political nature, like a hand gesture or kneeling" and "refusal to follow the Ceremonies protocol".

Several organizations have called on the IOC to relax or abolish Rule 50, including the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee Athletes' Advisory Council.

IOC President Thomas Bach has refused to rule out allowing podium protests - although it is thought unlikely these will be allowed during the postponed Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games - and warned of the need to differentiate between what he called "divisive demonstrations" and suitable forms of protest.
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