A minute’s silence at the Opening Ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics is one of the options being considered within International Olympic Committee (IOC) circles as the debate intensifies over Rule 50, which currently forbids political protests made at any Olympic sites.
Taking part in a Panam Sports discussion on the topic, five-time Olympian and American cross-country skier Kikkan Randall, a member of the IOC Athletes’ Commission, said a worldwide consultation process had thrown up numerous “creative” solutions to the question of how best to allow athletes to demonstrate support for issues such as racial and social equality at the Games.
Under Rule 50 guidelines developed by the Athletes’ Commission, announced in January, competitors who demonstrate at the Games were threatened with disciplinary action.
Protests were defined in the guidelines as “displaying any political messaging, including signs or armbands”, “gestures of a political nature, like a hand gesture or kneeling” and “refusal to follow the Ceremonies protocol”.
But following a backlash, the IOC direction of travel has altered and the Athletes’ Commission is in the process of a widespread collection of views which will eventually be presented to the IOC Executive Committee meeting in October.
Randall, a Pyeongchang 2018 team sprint gold medallist, said: “One of our IOC Athletes’ Commission members has said – ‘could we do something together at the Opening Ceremony?
“‘Could we have a minute of silence, where everybody stands together in unity?’
“That could be a really powerful statement to the world.
“Is it something we can agree upon?”
Randall also sits on the Board of the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee, whose Athletes’ Advisory Council is one of several organisations to have called on the IOC to relax or abolish Rule 50.
IOC President Thomas Bach has refused to rule out allowing podium protests – although it is thought unlikely these will be allowed during the postponed Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games – and warned of the need to differentiate between what he called “divisive demonstrations” and suitable forms of protest.
The Tokyo Olympics will be held from July 23 to August 9 next year.