It’s been four years since Colin Kaepernick refused to stand for the national anthem before a game against the Green Bay Packers, but the controversy surrounding “taking a knee” hasn’t abated. After several sports decided to allow some forms of protest following the Black Lives Matter protests, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has announced that athletes who protest at the 2021 Games will still be facing disciplinary action.
The rule isn’t new. It’s part of the Olympic Charter, which states that “no kind of demonstration of political, religious, or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas.” Banned protests include taking a knee, raising a fist, or wearing armbands or signs on the field of play, in the Olympic Village, during Olympic medal ceremonies, during the opening, closing and other official ceremonies. The IOC does, however, allow athletes to express personal opinions in post-competition interviews and on social media.
According to the charter, athletes who choose to protest will be disciplined on a case-by-case basis.
On Wednesday, IOC president Thomas Bach said that the committee would explore ways for athletes to express their “support for the principles enshrined in the Olympic charter in a dignified way.” he added “We also agree at the same time with the Athletes’ Commission we must always respect the Olympic spirit. This means we must make a difference between such a support for the principles enshrined in the Olympic charter and potentially divisive demonstrations.”