The International Olympics Committee and Tokyo 2020 organisers have performed a U-turn on their stance in banning social media teams from publishing photos of athletes taking a knee at the Games.
An exclusive from The Guardian yesterday revealed that the IOC had taken the decision to ban such posts after Team GB’s women’s football team took the knee in their first match of the tournament against Chile.
But on Thursday morning, the official Olympics Twitter account posted a picture of Team GB’s Lucy Bronze taking the knee, captioned: “Sports started yesterday. Just some of the highlights: Japan starting strong in softball. Teams were kneeling before the competition.”
Athletes at the games are allowed to protest peacefully as long as it is without disruption. This comes after the IOC recently relaxed rule 50, which previously forbade anyone making any form of demonstration.
Steph Houghton, co-captain of the Team GB women’s football team explained why the team had all come to a collective decision to kneel before the Chile game: “We felt strongly as a group that we wanted to show support for those affected by discrimination and equality.
“It was a proud moment because the Chile players took the knee too to show how united we are as a sport.”
Other members of the squad, including Lotte Wubben-Moy, took to Twitter to exemplify that the players will continue to stand up against injustice. The Arsenal defender posted a video of the players taking the knee alongside the message:
“We won’t stand for hate, discrimination or racism. The IOC don’t want these images going viral, but that won’t stop us from spreading the message. @TeamGB is here to set a precedent for love + respect, for all.”
The star also responded to the Olympics’ tweet with the photo of Bronze, writing: “Thank you. Say it louder for the people at the back.”
Team GB’s next game is against Japan on Saturday and it is expected they will take the knee again.