The United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee has announced that it will not sanction athletes for raising their fists or kneeling during the "Star-Spangled Banner" at the upcoming Olympic trials. The decision was announced as the USOPC released a nine-page document outlining "racial and social demonstrations" that would and would not be allowed. According to the document, kneeling, raising your first and wearing Black Lives Matter face masks are among the list of approved demonstrations. The nine-page document states that approved demonstrations should be "advancing racial and social justice; or promoting the human dignity of individuals or groups that have historically been underrepresented, minoritized, or marginalized in their respective societal context." In contrast, non-acceptable demonstrations include wearing clothing that portrays hate symbols or an action that impedes other athletes' ability to compete.
"I have confidence you'll make the best decision for you, your sport and your fellow competitors," USOPC CEO Sarah Hirshland said.
The guidelines set forth by the USOPC run contrary to the guidelines put in place by the International Olympic Committee. Amid a global protest movement unlike anything seen before, the IOC has banned national anthem protests during the 2021 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan. This ban includes kneeling, raising fists or wearing clothing with "political" messages. Athletes who break these rules will face discipline "on a case-by-case basis as necessary."
"It is a fundamental principle that sport is neutral and must be separate from political, religious or any other type of interference. Specifically, the focus for the field of play and related ceremonies must be on celebrating athletes' performance, and showcasing sport and its values ... these guidelines have been developed with the aim that each and every one of you can enjoy the experience of the Olympic Games without any divisive disruption," the Rule 50 Charter states.
The 2021 Olympics are set to take kick off on July 23.