LA 2028's Wasserman calls on IOC to change rule on athlete protests
The organising committee for the 2028 Olympic Games in Los Angeles has made a request to the International Olympic Committee that competing athletes be allowed to conduct anti-racism protests that have been outlawed until now.
In a letter sent to International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach and seen by Sportico, LA28 organising committee chairman Casey Wasserman wrote: “I urge you to allow and encourage athletes to advocate against racism anywhere they can, including on and off the field of play.”
He added: “Being antiracist is not political. Being antiracist is central to our core human principles and, therefore, an embodiment of everything the Olympic Games symbolises.”
The issue is the Olympic Charter’s Rule 50, which currently states: “No kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas.”
However, Bach has recently indicated the IOC would be willing to soften its stance on political gestures at the Olympics, with talks to be held with athletes.
Earlier in the year, the IOC had clarified the rule stating that political signs, arm bands, hand gestures, as well as failing to adhere to protocol during medal ceremonies and taking a knee during the national anthem and medal ceremonies was prohibited.
Wasserman concluded his letter to Bach by saying: “It is up to all of us to enact change and create a future we want to see. I am counting on your leadership to make the right decision.”
The chair originally sent the letter to Bach on 19 June, the date commemorating the end of slavery in USA.
In late June, the athletes’ advisory council of the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee and John Carlos, a former athletics star, also sent a letter demanding the right to protest.
Athletes are demanding the right to protest to show their support for campaigns such as Black Lives Matter, which has gathered momentum following the unlawful death of a black man, George Floyd, as he was being arrested by police officers in Minneapolis in May.
Athletes have been barred from conducting protests for decades, in the wake of the famous black power salute of raised fists given by Carlos and Tommie Smith at a medal ceremony at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City.
Participants taking a knee in support of Black Lives Matter has been a familiar sight at sports events in the last few months, including at matches in English soccer’s Premier League and at Formula 1 grands prix.