Women’s Sport: Megan Rapinoe unimpressed with the IOC’s protest ban

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Megan Rapinoe, one of football’s most vocal political activists, has taken to Instagram to criticise the International Olympic Committee (IOC) guidelines on protesting.

On her Instagram Stories, she wrote: “So much being done about the protests. So little being done about what we are protesting about. We will not be silenced.” 

The IOC Rule 50 guidelines state: “No kind of demonstration, political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas.” This means no kneeling, hand gestures or signs by athletes when they are competing or accepting medals.

The only form of activism permitted by the IOC is speaking out in press conferences, media interviews and on digital platforms.

The guidelines explain: "It should be noted that expressing views is different from protests and demonstrations."

The IOC have said there will consequences if athletes choose to ignore their policy: “If an athlete or participant is in breach of Rule 50 and the Olympic Charter, each incident will be evaluated by their respective National Olympic Committee, International Federation and the IOC, and disciplinary action will be taken on a case-by-case basis as necessary.”

In contrast to the rise in activism by sportspeople from Colin Kaepernick to Rapinoe herself, the document explaining the guidelines says: “It is a fundamental principle that sport is neutral and must be separate from political, religious or any other type of interference.”

Rapinoe has been protesting injustices in American society by choosing not to sing the country’s national anthem “Star-Spangled Banner” since 2016. She also chooses not to put her hand over her heart.

Another example of her protesting is when she knelt during the national anthem a few days after Colin Kaepernick did so protesting police brutality and racial injustice in the country in 2016.

It is highly likely Rapinoe will be a member of Team USA’s squad at Tokyo 2020, so only time will tell how and if she chooses to defy the IOC.

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