Athletes will be give a little more leeway to express their personal political and social justice views during the Tokyo Olympics after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) slightly loosened its rules regarding political expression.
USA Today reported that the IOC issued the new guidance on Friday, just three weeks before the Tokyo Games begin. The changes affect Rule 50, which is used to ban athletes from protesting or making political displays during the Olympics.
“Under the new guidance, athletes will be able to express their views on the field of play before competition so long is it is not targeted against people, not disruptive and not otherwise prohibited by national Olympic committees or international federations,” USA Today reported. “Expressions during competition, in the Olympic village and during ceremonies — including medal, opening and closing ceremonies — remain prohibited under a longstanding rule in the Olympic charter baring ‘political, religious or racial propaganda.’”
As the outlet noted, athletes “have been pushing the IOC for greater leeway to express their views, specifically on issues of social and racial justice.”
The move comes after the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) put Gwen Berry, a hammer thrower who came in a distant third place during last week’s trials to compete in the Olympics, on probation following her act of defiance during the medal ceremony. As The Daily Wire’s Joe Morgan previously reported, as “the National Anthem began to play with the winners standing on the podium, Berry turned away from the flag so that she was facing the stands.”
“Toward the end of the anthem, she pulled up a black t-shirt with the words “Activist Athlete” on the front to cover her head,” Morgan added.
Following the display, Berry claimed she thought playing the anthem while she was on the podium felt “like it was a setup.”
“I feel like they did that on purpose, and I was pissed, to be honest. I was thinking about what should I do. Eventually, I just stayed there and just swayed. I put my shirt over my head. It was real disrespectful. I know they did that on purpose, but it’ll be all right. I see what’s up,” she said.
The anthem was scheduled to be played at the same time each night of the trials that took place last weekend, though it was delayed a few minutes on Saturday, when Berry was receiving her medal.
“The national anthem was scheduled to play at 5:20 p.m. today,” USA Track and Field spokesman Susan Hazzard said, according to the Associated Press. “We didn’t wait until the athletes were on the podium for the hammer throw awards. The national anthem is played every day according to a previously published schedule.”
The snub made Berry the center of attention even though first-place winner DeAnna Price, who broke the American record and meet records for her throw, which was just under seven feet longer than Berry’s throw.
Berry was further criticized after an image of her posted to her website showed her draped in the American flag, a symbol she now claims makes her uncomfortable.
The new IOC guidelines follow guidelines from the USOPC earlier this year that allowed Olympic athletes to engage in protest, The Daily Wire’s Emily Zanotti reported.
“The USOPC released a nine-page document Tuesday to offer guidance about the sort of ‘facial and social demonstrations’ that will and won’t be allowed by the hundreds who will compete in coming months for spots on the U.S. team,” ABC News reported. “The document comes three months after the federation, heeding calls from its athletes, determined it would not enforce longstanding rules that ban protests at the Olympics.”