The British women’s football team will take the knee before each match at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Team GB confirmed they will be taking the knee at Tokyo 2020 after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) relaxed a ban of athlete demonstrations at the Games.
The IOC was previously adamant athletes would have to strictly follow Rule 50, which states “no kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas.”
Although athletes will still be banned from protesting on the podium during the Games, the IOC have now backed down and given athletes permission to demonstrate – including raising a fist or taking the knee – at specific times and in certain areas before their competition takes place.
It is unsurprising Team GB wish to take the knee at Tokyo 2020. The vast majority of players took the knee with their domestic clubs in the Women’s Super League before every match last season. In addition, their desire to tackle racism will have become even greater following the abuse several of their male counterparts received after England lost to Italy in the Euro 2020 Final.
“The players and staff have been taking the knee at club and international level for over a year now and we were all united in our decision to continue doing whatever we can to raise awareness of racism and discrimination in all its forms, standing in unity and solidarity with all those whose lives are affected,” Team GB head coach Hege Riise said.
“We are clear that taking the knee is an important symbol of peaceful protest against discrimination, injustice and inequality in society and we are glad that the IOC have acknowledged the importance of this form of freedom of expression.
“We will do so with the utmost respect for our fellow competitors, officials and the IOC, with due regard for the ideals that lie at the heart of the Olympic movement.”
Team GB will start their campaign in the women’s football tournament at Tokyo 2020 with a Group E clash against Chile on July 21st. They will then take on hosts Japan on July 24th and Canada on July 27th.
Manchester City’s Steph Houghton, Chelsea’s Sophie Ingle and Arsenal’s Kim Little have been named as the three captains of the squad, who flew out to Japan last week. Preparations for the Games started well after the team defeated New Zealand 3-0 in a behind-closed-doors warm-up match.