Taking a knee has become such a widely accepted anti-racism gesture it was not in the least bit surprising to see football players from the women’s United States, Sweden, Chile, Britain and New Zealand teams doing so before their opening matches on Wednesday night. In the Olympic arena, however, protests have been a hotly contested topic for decades.
For some context, the Olympics have always billed themselves as a non-political entity, one which unifies countries instead of dividing them. To wit, the contentious Rule 50 in the Olympic charter states: “No kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas.” That was famously tested at the Mexico City Games in 1968, when American sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised their black-gloved fists while their national anthem played during the 200m medals ceremony.
#Tokyo2020 sports started yesterday! Just some of the highlights...
Japan starting strong in #softball
⚽ Teams were kneeling before the competition
⚽ Vivianne Miedema scored four goals for #NED
♂️ First look at the men’s gymnastics contenders in podium training
This one, too, by Andy Bull, who invites us all into a time machine and transports us back to the very first Games in 1896. The Olympics, he writes, were “born out of uncertainty, delivered by an obdurate and implacable IOC, despite public doubts, political concerns, and escalating costs”. The IOC’s sheer stubbornness has carried the Olympics through 125 years of Olympics across two world wars, massacres, doping scandals and corruption.
“Right the way up to these Tokyo Games. The IOC has tried to compare them to the Antwerp Olympics in 1920, which were held at the tail end of the Spanish flu pandemic. But nothing in living memory has been anything like this. They’re throwing a party in the middle of a global pandemic, have 100,000 guests, 11,000 athletes, and 79,000 officials, support staff and journalists, from more than 200 countries, flying into a city stuck in a state of emergency, in a country where only 22% of the population are fully vaccinated, a country which simply isn’t ready for these Games.”Continue reading...