The international federation for water sports announced it is banning podium protests at the summer Olympics.
The announcement came in a statement by the Switzerland-based Fédération Internationale De Natation (FINA), which is recognized by the International Olympic Committee, according to the Washington Examiner.
"FINA fully supports an athlete’s right to free speech," said FINA President Husain Al Musallam in a statement posted on the organization’s website. "It is a fundamental aspect of democracy and such voice should not be suppressed, within the bounds of respect and dignity. Our athletes’ voices matter and should be heard.
"Consistent with FINA’s practice at all of its competitions, based on the FINA Code of Conduct, any political, religious or discriminatory statement or behavior will remain strictly prohibited on the field of play, starting when the athlete leaves the call room or similar.
"Consistent with FINA's practice and the IOC's guidelines on the implementation of its Rule 50.2, political, religious or discriminatory statements during the medal ceremonies and on the medal podiums will also be prohibited.
"Athletes have the right to the privacy of the moment, to remain free of unnecessary distraction from the competition and preparation, with the pool deck remaining a sanctity for sport and nothing else. The pool deck is and must always remain a place of friendship and respect for the greater whole, not the individual.
"The same level of respect should be given to the podium. This moment celebrates the accomplishments of individuals/teams, their support teams, coaches, families and nations, who each and all deserve to cherish that moment without interference. It is a moment that commands respect and triumph for sporting results and should not be remembered by individual expression."
FINA said there will be opportunities for athletes to express their views, including press conferences, interviews, and team meetings.
The Olympics, scheduled to open in Tokyo on July 23, will take place without spectators, organizers announced on Thursday. Reuters reported the move was made as a resurgent COVID-19 forced Japan to declare a state of emergency.
"It is regrettable that we are delivering the Games in a very limited format, facing the spread of coronavirus infections," Tokyo 2020 President Seiko Hashimoto said.
"I am sorry for those who purchased tickets."
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