USOPC says it will not sanction athletes for peacefully and respectfully demonstrating during upcoming Games

VIDEO SHOWS: STILL IMAGES OF STATEMENT FROM USOPC (UNITED STATES OLYMPIC AND PARALYMPIC COMMITTEE) CEO SARAH HIRSHLAND. FILE VIDEO OF FORMER U.S. OLYMPIANS JOHN CARLOS AND TOMMIE SMITH WHO PROTESTED AT 1968 OLYMPICS. FILE VIDEO OF SOCIAL JUSTICE PROTESTS IN U.S. RECENT VIDEO OF OLYMPIC RINGS BEING MOVED INTO TOKYO BAY IN ANTICIPATION OF NEXT SUMMER GAMES

SHOWS:

INTERNET (DECEMBER 10, 2020) (SOCIAL MEDIA WEBSITE - ACCESS ALL) (MUTE)

1. STILL IMAGE FROM UNITED STATES OLYMPIC AND PARALYMPIC COMMITTEE (USOPC) CEO SARAH HIRSHLAND'S TWITTER PAGE, SAYING:

"I value the voices of Team USA athletes and believe that their right to advocate for racial and social justice and act as a force for good deserves the support of the USOPC. My full letter to Team USA athletes:"

2. STILL IMAGES OF HIRSHLAND'S STATEMENT TO TEAM USA

WASHINGTON, D.C., UNITED STATES (FILE - APRIL 17, 2018) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)

3. FORMER U.S. OLYMPIAN JOHN CARLOS WHO PROTESTED AT 1968 OLYMPICS SPEAKING AT 2018 FREE EXPRESSION AWARD CEREMONY AT THE NEWSEUM

4. FORMER U.S. OLYMPIAN TOMMIE SMITH WHO PROTESTED AT 1968 OLYMPICS SPEAKING AT 2018 FREE EXPRESSION AWARD CEREMONY AT THE NEWSEUM

WASHINGTON, D.C., UNITED STATES (FILE - JUNE 6, 2020) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)

5. PROTESTERS MARCHING AND CHANTING DURING SOCIAL JUSTICE MOVEMENT NEAR WHITE HOUSE

6. PROTESTERS MARCHING, HOLDING BANNERS

7. PERSON HOLDING A BANNER READING "I CAN'T BREATH G. FLOYD MATTERS"

TOKYO, JAPAN (RECENT - DECEMBER 1, 2020) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)

8. LARGE OLYMPIC RINGS MONUMENT ARRIVING ON BARGE IN TOKYO BAY AHEAD OF SUMMER GAMES CURRENTLY SCHEDULED FOR JULY 23 - AUGUST 8, 2021

9. VARIOUS OF OLYMPIC RINGS ARRIVING IN TOKYO BAY

STORY: The United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) said on Thursday (December 10) it will not sanction athletes for peacefully and respectfully demonstrating in support of racial and social justice at the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The USOPC's decision came in response to recommendations from an athlete-led council seeking change to Rule 50 of the Olympic Charter which prohibits any kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda.

"The USOPC values the voices of Team USA athletes and believes that their right to advocate for racial and social justice, and be a positive force for change, absolutely aligns with the fundamental values of equality that define Team USA and the Olympic and Paralympic movements," USOPC chief executive Sarah Hirshland said in a statement.

The Team USA Council on Racial and Social Justice said hate speech, racist propaganda and discriminatory remarks aimed at eliminating the rights and dignity of historically marginalised populations do not meet the requirements for ethical speech.

It also called on the International Olympic Committee (IOC)and International Paralympic Committee (IPC) to recognise that protests focused on human rights and social justice initiatives do not qualify as "divisive disruptions" of the Games and should not be met with the same consequences as hate speech.

"The silencing of athletes during the Games is in stark contrast to the importance of recognizing participants in the Games as humans first and athletes second," the council said in its statement.

"Prohibiting athletes to freely express their views during the Games, particularly those from historically underrepresented and minoritized groups, contributes to the dehumanization of athletes that is at odds with key Olympic and Paralympic values."

The postponed Tokyo Olympics are now due to be held from July 23-Aug. 8 next year, while the next Winter Games are scheduled to be hosted in Beijing in 2022.

The 44-member Team USA Council on Racial and Social Justice, is comprised of 23 Team USA athletes, five Team USA alumni, five national governing body members, five USOPC liaisons, and six external members.

Among those on the council is former sprinter John Carlos, who was kicked off the U.S. team and sent home from the 1968 Mexico City Olympics for a raised-fist protest while on a medal podium amid the civil rights movement in the United States.

The gesture was rebuked as unpatriotic but Carlos and Tommie Smith, who also stood on the podium with a raised fist, have since received the USOPC's highest honor as they were inducted onto the organisation's Hall of Fame last year.

(Production: David Grip)

Video Transcript

JOHN CARLOS: 50 years ago, I stood on a podium with two individuals, Tommie Smith and another blue-eyed white guy by the name of Peter Norman.

- In the face of adversity, the struggle continues. Now there's many of us who look for comfort in--

- Say her name.

- Breonna Taylor.

- Say it again.

- Breonna Taylor.

- What's her name?

- Breonna Taylor.

- Black lives matter.

- Black lives matter.

- Black lives matter.