The International Olympic Committee will now allow its social media channels to post photos of athletes protesting at the Games, according to news reports.
''The IOC is covering the Games on its owned and operated platforms and such moments will be included as well,'' the Olympic body said Thursday in an apparent change of policy.
The move comes three days after the IOC and Tokyo 2020 organizers banned their social media teams from posting photos of athletes kneeling in protest after Great Britain’s and Chile’s women’s soccer team took a knee before their match in protest of racism and online hate.
The image was seen on live TV and the gesture was followed by U.S., Swedish and New Zealand players doing the same.
None of the pictures was posted on the official Tokyo 2020 live blog or its Facebook, Instagram or Twitter page. They were also off the IOC’s social media channels.
The IOC recently relaxed Rule 50, which forbid athletes to make any kind of ''demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas.''
The gesture, though, has to be consistent with the ''Fundamental Principles of Olympism.''
"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.
Two reviews of Rule 50 in the previous 18 months by the IOC’s own athletes commission had concluded Olympic competitors did not want distractions on their field of play.
The new guidance allows taking a knee or raising a fist in pre-game or pre-race introductions but not on medal ceremony podiums. The IOC will still discipline athletes who protest on the podium.
Sports governing bodies still have a veto, and swimming’s FINA has said its athletes are prohibited on the pool deck from any gesture interpreted as a protest.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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