Megan Rapinoe vowed that athletes "will not be silenced" after the International Olympic Committee warned against political protests at the Tokyo Games. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)
United States World Cup icon Megan Rapinoe vowed that athletes "will not be silenced" after the International Olympic Committee warned against political protests at the Tokyo Games. "So much being done about the protests," Rapinoe said in an Instagram post. "So little being done about what we are protesting about. We will not be silenced." Rapinoe's comments were accompanied by a graphic showing fists raised through the interlocking rings -- under the crossed out words "kneeling, hand gestures, signs."
The post comes after IOC chief Thomas Bach reiterated that athletes, coaches, trainers and officials are banned from political protests on the field of play, at the Olympic Village, during the opening and closing ceremonies and on the medal podium. "If this political neutrality is not respected, then the Olympic Games will divide, and not unite, the world," Bach insisted.
The guidelines issued by the IOC on specific actions that are banned and will draw sanctions, come after two US athletes were reprimanded by the US Olympic Committee for medal podium protests at the Pan American Games in Lima. Fencer Race Imboden kneeled and hammer thrower Gwen Berry raised a fist in protest. Both received 12 months probation. Rapinoe has been outspoken on political issues during her career, speaking out about issues including gender equality and racism.
In 2016 she joined former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in kneeling during the national anthem to protest racial inequality in America. In a meeting of the IOC in Lausanne, Bach stressed the "importance" of a series of recently-adopted directives designed to clarify what is banned and the sanctions for those not respecting the ban, established under Rule 50 of the Olympic Charter. "The Olympic Games are always a global platform for the athletes and their sporting performances. They are not, and must never be, a platform to advance political or any other potentially divisive ends," Bach said.
Athletes, coaches, trainers and officials are banned from political protests on the field of play, the Olympic Village, during the opening and closing ceremonies and on the medal podium. In October the International Judo Federation (IJF) banned Iran from competition indefinitely over the country's refusal to face Israeli competitors.
Megan Rapinoe joined former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in kneeling during the national anthem to protest racial inequality in America. (Image credit: Getty Images)
Iranian fighter Saeid Mollaei, defending his title at the Tokyo World Championships in August, had said he was ordered to throw his semi-final rather than risk facing an Israeli in the final of the -81kg class. The 1980 and 1984 Olympics were hit by boycotts that did not have any results.
Bach said. "The boycotts we had particularly in the 1980s with Moscow and the counter-boycott in Los Angeles which brought the Games to the brink of demise... had no effect whatsoever. Sport was a kind of a scapegoat because all the other political divisions were not affected. The Moscow boycott did not change anything in Afghanistan at the time and the counter-boycott in 1984 did nothing to change politically the United States or the foreign policy in the US."