LeBron James’ effect at the Tokyo Olympics will still be felt even if the Los Angeles Lakers superstar is no longer playing basketball for Team USA.
The Uninterrupted, a media company founded by the four-time NBA champion and his business partner Maverick Carter, took aim Tuesday at the International Olympic Committee (IOC)’s rule barring athletes from political protests on the medal stand and during competition.
The company explained to its followers in a tweet what Rule 50 of the Olympic Charter was and opined that the rule was “silencing athletes.”
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“Rule 50 is a rule in the Olympic Charter that bans any kind of demonstration and prohibits any opinionated political, religious or racial propaganda at the Olympic site in 2021,” the Uninterrupted’s message read.
“The only time an athlete is able to speak freely is at press conferences and to the media, but not on the Olympic podium when the world is watching.
“Simply put, we see this as a way of silencing voices, and as advocates for Athlete empowerment, we take a stand against it.
“Sport is not neutral. When athletes speak up – whether from a stadium, gymnasium, or track – they start conversations and things change.
“Give athletes the chance to show up fully and to make change.”
IOC ALLOWS ATHLETE PROTESTS BEFORE OLYMPIC EVENTS, BARS POLITICAL GESTURES ON PODIUMS AND DURING COMPETITION
Earlier in July, the IOC extended more guidelines on athletes’ freedom of expression at the Tokyo Games but warned against political gestures during official ceremonies, competition and in the Olympic Village.
The IOC said the guidelines were approved by the Executive Board of the IOC as part of the IOC Athletes’ Commission’s (IOC AC) recommendations. The IOC said the guidelines offer “further clarity” on the “wide range of opportunities available to them to express their views.”
Athletes will be allowed to express a political gesture prior to the start of a competition or during their introduction or the introduction of the team. However, the gesture must meet four different criteria.
The gesture has to be consistent with the “Fundamental Principles of Olympism,” cannot be targeted at a certain people, country or organization, cannot be disruptive and cannot already be banned by a nation’s own Olympic committee or federation.
“When expressing their views, athletes are expected to respect the applicable laws, the Olympic values and their fellow athletes. It should be recognized that any behavior and/or expression that constitutes or signals discrimination, hatred, hostility or the potential for violence on any basis whatsoever is contrary to the Fundamental Principles of Olympism,” the IOC said.
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If an athlete breaks the guidelines, the IOC laid out possible discipline. The IOC could have disciplinary hearings, in which the athlete would be required to provide full transparency about their actions.
The new guidelines are a result of our extensive consultation with the global athletes’ community,” IOC AC Chair Kirsty Coventry said. “While the guidelines offer new opportunities for athletes to express themselves prior to the competition, they preserve the competitions on the Field of Play, the ceremonies, the victory ceremonies and the Olympic Village. This was the wish of a big majority of athletes in our global consultation.”
The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) said it would not bar athletes who protest during the trials and would not seek discipline if they continued during the Olympics.
The organization warned athletes they could still be up for discipline from the IOC.
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While no American athletes have committed to a protest, the British women’s soccer team pledged to take a knee before kickoff against Chile in their Olympic opener in Sapporo in support of racial justice.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.