The International Olympic Committee and Tokyo 2020 organizers have reportedly banned the official social media channels for the Olympics from posting photos of athletes kneeling in protest, according to The Guardian.
An Olympic insider told the newspaper that top officials delivered the news on Tuesday evening and included a reference to the players kneeling before the women's soccer game between Britain and Chile. The live TV broadcast of the event included the gesture, which was a protest against racism and online hatred shared by players from the United States, Sweden and New Zealand.
But The Guardian notes that no images of players kneeling appeared on the Tokyo 2020 official live blog, or its pages on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram; nor did they appear on the official social media channels of the IOC.
One insider told the newspaper that they found the decision odd, noting the famous image of 1968 Olympians Tommie Smith and John Carlos raising their fists in protest of the unfair treatment of Black people in the United States. The Guardian also notes that the organization recently eased the restrictions imposed by Rule 50, a provision that in the past prohibited athletes from taking part in any ''demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas,'' making peaceful protests allowed if they do not interfere with the games and are done with respect for the other athletes.
When asked about athletes taking a knee, IOC President Thomas Bach said at a press conference that ''it is allowed. It is no violation of Rule 50. That is expressively what is allowed in these guidelines.''
Steph Houghton, one of the captains of Team Great Britain, said after the game that ''as players in Great Britain we've been taking the knee in club and international matches, and we felt strongly as a group that we wanted to show support for those affected by discrimination and [in]equality. It was a proud moment because the Chile players took the knee too to show how united we are as sport.''
The team's chef de mission, Mark England, added that the players had been ''disgusted'' by the racist attacks against the England men's soccer team after their recent loss in the Euro 2020 final.
''Certainly the women's football team here feel very strongly about the online abuse and about the racism, Kick It Out campaign and about taking a knee, and we absolutely support them in that,'' he said.
A spokesperson for the IOC did not directly comment on the reported decision when asked by The Guardian, but did note that ''the signal is distributed to all the broadcasters around the world with a huge TV audience.''
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