Olympics protest ban reveals the games’ political hypocrisy | #politics | #trump

The IOC’s announcement last week that athletes participating in the Tokyo Games will face punishment for any political protests or demonstrations would be laughable if the Olympics weren’t one of the world’s premier sporting events.

The Olympics have long been synonymous with political hypocrisy. The International Olympic Committee likes to claim that the Games stand for international brotherhood and global harmony. Talk about a big lie.

The IOC consistently promotes national jingoism at the Games, going as far as playing the national anthem of gold medal winners while spectators and the silver and bronze medalists stand and watch.

The IOC is the organization that refused to move the 1936 Games from Berlin, despite Adolph Hitler’s despicable desire to showcase Germany’s “master race.” And the IOC is the organization that rationalized giving the 2008 Games to Beijing because it “will do a lot for the improvement of human rights and social relations in China.”

The IOC won’t acknowledge it, but the ban on protesting is in itself a political act, siding with those who prefer that their star athletes be seen but not heard. It’s likely to backfire, in spectacular fashion. Prohibiting protests will only bring more attention when they happen. Does anyone really believe that the likes of Megan Rapinoe and LeBron James are going to be intimidated by the IOC? The organization hasn’t determined what the punishment will be, but it said it will provide clarity prior to the opening ceremonies in July.

Fifty-three years after the 1968 Summer Games, the IOC still hasn’t learned the lesson of the Tommie Smith and John Carlos’ protest.

Smith won the gold and Carlos the bronze in the 200-meter race in Mexico City. The San Jose State track stars were part of Professor Harry Edwards’ Olympic Project for Human Rights. They saw the Olympics as an opportunity to highlight black pride and social consciousness. They also wanted to expose the historical exploitation of black athletes, demand the hiring of more black coaches and press to rescind Olympic invitations to the two countries that practiced apartheid, Rhodesia and South Africa.

So when they stood on the Olympic podium, they raised their black-gloved fists during the playing of the national anthem. They weren’t trying to dishonor the American flag. They were trying to raise consciousness about basic human rights.

The U.S. Olympic Committee’s decision to expel them from the Games turned them into icons for the civil rights movement.

In 2005, a 22-foot statue of the medal-stand demonstration was unveiled at San Jose State to honor their courage and their stand for racial justice. Speaking in front of the statue during a 2018 celebration of the protest, Smith said, “It is very sad nationally that two young athletes had to do what they were doing to bring attention to racism.”

They weren’t the first, and they certainly won’t be the last. Smith, Carlos, Muhammad Ali, Jackie Robinson, Bill Russell and Colin Kaepernick are just some of the athletes who have used their platforms to fight for social justice.

The IOC should embrace athletes’ right to freedom of expression as a fundamental principle of the Olympic spirit.


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