Olympic Bosses Warn Athletes That They Face A Ban If They Take The Knee In Peaceful Protest Over Injustice

Taking the knee gets an Olympic ban in a climate of support for such peaceful protest - Photo Courtesy: Now This Video of the Colin Kaepernik story

The International Olympics Committee (IOC) is sticking to its threat to ban athletes at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in 2021 for taking a knee in peaceful solidarity with anti-racism movements.

IOC bosses confirmed that their guidelines haven’t changed despite international law that defends the right of peaceful protest, despite such protests unfolding world wide and despite significant shifts in thinking at sports organisations such the NFL, FIFA and England’s FA in the wake of the brutal death of George Floyd under the knee of a white police officer now charged with murder.

The crisis in the United States has led to protests across the world on an issue that played out in Olympic history back in 1936, when Jesse Owens claimed four gold medals in the face of discrimination about to spill to World War and the Holocaust.

The IOC’s confirmation followed an Open Letter addressed to it by Gwen Berry, the American hammer thrower, under the heading: “Sport, Politics, protest … and The Olympics” (see letter in full at the foot of this article).

The Olympic Movement and member federations have long been criticised for being behind the times on many issues, including rights of athletes, the models through which vast revenues flowing from the business of the Games and related Olympic sports events are shared and structures of governance backed by constitutions that keep independent oversight at bay or cut it out altogether.

Olympic officials published guidelines in January banning any protest at the Tokyo Games. Athletes face sanctions, including removal of medals and suspension from the Games, for “taking a knee, raising a fist or refusing to follow protocol at medal ceremonies”.

Swimming’s Version Of Taking A Knee

(L-R) Second placed Mack Horton of Australia keeps his distance to winner Yang Sun of China while they pose with their medals for photographers after competing in the men's 400m Freestyle Final during the Swimming events at the Gwangju 2019 FINA World Championships, Gwangju, South Korea, 21 July 2019. Gabriele Detti of Italy finishes third.

Mack Horton, left, keeps his distance to Sun Yang for the photo-op with bronze medallist Gabriele Detti after medals in the 400m free at world titles in Gwangju … podium protests followed after Sun Yang’s latest brush with anti-doping authorities – Photo Courtesy: Patrick B. Kraemer

The latter followed podium protests by Australia’s Mack Horton and Britain’s Duncan Scott at the World swimming championships last year in Gwangju. Under a giant event motto “Dive Into Peace”, Horton, after the 400m freestyle final, and then Scott, after the 200m freestyle final, staged peaceful podium protests by standing aside when it came to having their photo taken alongside Sun Yang, the Chinese swimmer towing a doping penalty and heading to a hearing at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) but allowed to race on.

FINA took less than 24 hours to impose bans on all three swimmers, Sun’s penalty for leaning into Scott and shouting at him while still on the podium as events were being broadcast to the world. The international federation’s action was widely criticised by coaches associations around the world as well as scores of world-class swimmers, Adam Peaty, Cate Campbell, Sarah Sjostrom, Katie Ledecky and Katinka Hosszu among swimmers who lent their support to Horton and Scott.

Sun Yang was subsequently suspended for eight years when the CAS sided with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), which had challenged a FINA Doping Panel decision to let the swimmer off with a caution after he was involved in conflict with anti-doping test officers in September 2018. Even so, Sun kept the World titles over 200 and 400m freestyle, just as he kept Asian Games titles in 2014 just four months after testing positive for a banned substance and three months ahead of the forced imposition of a backdated three-month suspension that was never served. Sun awaits a decision in a last-stand appeal to the Swiss Federal Tribunal.

Now, the IOC has confirmed that its “guidelines are still in place”, even as key member nations take a different route in the current climate. In stark contrast to the IOC’s stance, the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee, who announced it would create an “athlete-led group” to challenge the organisation’s own rules, including the athletes’ rights to protest.

The British Olympic Association (BOA) is travelling down a similar path as it considers support for its athletes’ rights to promote the Black Lives Matter movement. The BOA will discuss the issue, including the taking a knee, with athlete representatives before filtering the outcomes of talks back up the chain to the IOC.

The International Paralympic Committee confirmed that it encourages athletes to “stand up for what they believe in” but noted that the same IOC rules and guidelines stand.

Athletes are allowed to express political opinions in official media settings or on social media accounts but the guidelines ban athlete protests on the field of play, at ceremonies or in the Olympic Village at the Games.

The IOC says athletes who break the rules will be dealt with on a “case-by-case basis” and added that it “will not speculate on hypothetical cases 13 months before the Olympic Games”.

Meanwhile, athlete representatives have discussed the question of why IOC guidelines make no provision for penalising international federations and others when rulings from the likes of CAS and WADA against them but the athletes impacted by the decisions of the federation are forced to live with the consequences, including medals and status “stolen” and never to be returned.

The IOC today issued a statement on racism and inclusion, saying that the latter was “in the DNA of the Olympic Games and the IOC as an organisation”. It cited founder Pierre de Coubertin but made no mention of the IOC’s embracing of the Hitler Games in Berlin 1936, where the stadiums and venues were soaked in swastikas and the story of Jesse Owens and Luz Long shows how it was left to athletes to show the better way to the future.

2028 olympics, 2028 olympic games, los angeles, olympic ringsThe IOC statement:

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) condemns racism in the strongest terms.

The IOC stands for non-discrimination as one of the founding pillars of the Olympic Movement, which is reflected in the Olympic Charter, Fundamental Principle 6:

“The enjoyment of the rights and freedoms set forth in this Olympic Charter shall be secured without discrimination of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, sexual orientation, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.”

The Olympic Games are a very powerful global demonstration against racism and for inclusivity. They are a celebration of the unity of humankind in all our diversity. Athletes from all 206 National Olympic Committees (NOCs) and the IOC Refugee Olympic Team all enjoy the same rights, respecting each other and with the same rules applying to everyone without any kind of discrimination. All these athletes live peacefully together in the Olympic Village, sharing their meals, their thoughts and their emotions.

This is in the DNA of the Olympic Games and the IOC as an organisation. Our founder Pierre de Coubertin said: “We shall not have peace until the prejudices that now separate the different races are outlived. To attain this end, what better means is there than to bring the youth of all countries periodically together for amicable trials of muscular strength and agility?”

The IOC Executive Board supports the initiative of the IOC Athletes’ Commission to explore different ways of how Olympic athletes can express their support for the principles enshrined in the Olympic Charter, including at the time of the Olympic Games, and respecting the Olympic spirit.

By participating in the Olympic Games, the athletes are proof of this principle of non-discrimination for any reason. Their respect for all their fellow athletes gives us a glimpse of how humankind as a whole could live together peacefully and respectfully.

Taking a Knee – Taking a Stand

Sport, Politics, Protest … and The Olympics” – A Open Letter From  Gwen Berry

In the wake of the tragic killing of George Floyd, along with others who have died at the hands of the Police, I have been asked by many reporters, over the last week, for my for my opinion on the relationship between protests, sport, the Olympics and the role that athletes can play in advocacy for civil rights.

The 280 character limit of twitter and space on Social Media platforms does not always work well to fully cover the issues. So, I thought I’d discuss some of my thoughts and opinions in this open letter.

Politics and the Tokyo Olympics – What’s the Cost ?

Despite the efforts of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to convince us otherwise, the idea that sport and politics can be separated, is absurd. Let’s be real, it is impossible to bid for or host an Olympics without Government and public funds being provided. These funds are at the expense of other social programs like health and education. Spending of public funds, in democratic countries is, by definition, a political decision.

ESPN reported this week that IOC Operations had commenced an “open discussion” with insurance brokers with the aim “to try and find the right level of compensation to help us bear the cost of having to wait another year”. Costs for organizers in Japan are expected to reach billions of dollars, with most of the bill paid for by taxpayers. The retention of the Olympic Village for another year was “problem No. 1.” Around 25% of the apartments have been pre-sold to people who had planned to move in after the Olympics are over, and those buyers are set to receive some compensation for having to wait an extra year before taking possession.

ESPN also reported, like many countries, Japan is headed into a recession brought on by the coronavirus pandemic meaning Olympic costs have soared. The cost of the delay in Japan has been estimated at $2 billion to $6 billion and neither the IOC nor organizers have given a figure for the costs to Japan, or who will pay for them.

Before the postponement, organizers said they were spending $12.6 billion to put on the games. But a government audit last year said the figure was twice that, and all but $5.6 billion is public money.

When Tokyo was awarded the games in 2013, it said the cost would be $7.3 billion.

The Olympics – Is it Sport or Entertainment?

According to the International Olympic Committee, their mission is “to promote Olympism throughout the world and to lead the Olympic Movement. This includes upholding ethics in sports, encouraging participation in sports, ensuring the Olympic Games take place on a regular period, protecting the Olympic Movement, and encouraging and supporting the development of sport.” That’s a fine charter, but of course a significant issue, to meeting their objectives, is who pays?? The billions of dollars we’re talking about comes through government funding, “partnerships” and sponsors.

The largest “partners” are the broadcast partners who are in the sports and entertainment business. The remainder of sponsors are corporations who have choices as to where they spend their sponsorship money, as they have an obligation to their shareholders to get a return on their investment.

Taking a Knee, Protests, The History Of Discrimination & Coverage Of A Crisis Long In The Making



  1. Matthew Lowe

    Taking drugs = ok
    Being anti-racist = not ok

  2. Brent Causey

    Not everyone of us wants to see Colin please don’t be racist

    • Swimming World

      That’s not only a warp on what ‘racism’ is but might well be construed to be racist itself, without clear clarification of precisely what you mean, Brent.

    • Matt Ramey

      Brent Causey wait… this looks like “English language” but is impossible to discern

    • Craig Lord

      Matt Ramey indeed, it ‘looks like’ it but it appears to be at least two sentences in one, a punctuation-free tweet in that fails the English language interpretation test… as it stands, it looks both racist and inaccurate…

    • Matt Ramey

      Craig Lord alright bud. I’m glad we agree in supporting black swimmers and peaceful demonstrations for a better world. #blacklivesmatter

    • Anne Groskamp Broughton

      Dear “Swimming World” – This was posted a few minutes ago. So, it’s now “re-posted”. Hope it’s helpful. While the answer to the above is easy – no further comment unless a PM. There are too many people that utilise information that’s posted for their own

    • Brent Causey

      Swimming World I have no need to explain myself what I have written is exactly what I mean I don’t want to see Colin on my Facebook I’m unfollowing this group

  3. Matt Ramey

    The best should participate and no one should discourage peaceful demonstration.

    • Mark Honan

      Matt Ramey not about them

    • Chad Mclintock

      Mark Honan it’s about competing and doing what you are there for participating. Not protesting getting involved with racial nonsense

      • avatar
        Craig Lord - Swimming World Editor-in-Chief

        Chad. “Racial nonsense” is not nonsense to the victims of discrimination and those whose lives are impacted by it; on occasion lost because of it. Think about it. Here’s Alice Dearing… listen to her. She doesn’t want those who follow her to experience the same discrimination as she faced growing up; she realises that she has a powerful voice as an elite athlete; she’s active; and should she make the cut for Tokyo 2020 – or other global events – she will doubtless be asked by the media about all of that – and will doubtless be happy to answer and take the opportunity the biog occasion affords. Racial ‘nonsense’ is a phrase I think you should think about much more carefully.

    • Peter Scott

      Chad Mclintock I think if you refer to it all as ‘racial nonsense’ then you are loosing the arguement whether your point is vaild or not? stay safe?

  4. Peter Scott

    Sadly peacful ‘protest’ or displays of allegiance for what many people might like to think as correcr will have to be placed to the side otherwise less palatable displays like nazi salutes might also appear. That said the IOC has historically not managed to uphold its own ethics when it comes to known drug cheats and response to evidence of State run sports regimens and restoration of medals to those deserving who were denied

    • Chad Mclintock

      Peter Scott it’s about the Olympic and nothing else. People at there peek. Not about racism or anything.

    • Peter Scott

      Chad Mclintock sadly the Olympics is all about money and a bit of sport thrown in at times that suit the USA television channels. Whether the timing is best for the athletes has recently had very little to do with that

    • Chad Mclintock

      Peter Scott money or not, but not a time for race matters. It’s about competing and representing your country, no matter what race you represent. Politics and race must stay away from sport plain and simple

    • Peter Scott

      Chad Mclintock you are correct but the Olympics has never been ‘clean’ in that respect. Boycotts in the 1980’s due to USSR and USA. South Africa barred from the Olympics for years, why because of human rights and racisim (sound familiar?). Nazi Germany using it as propaganda tool etc etc.
      Yes keep the politics out of sport I agree 100% however the problem is that neither the Olympics or the Olympic movement have themselves been able maintain that aspiration…..sadly

    • Chad Mclintock

      Peter Scott In my opinion that was in the past, Jesse Owens 4x gold medalist in 1936 proved Germany wrong because he showed the sport as well as the world that race/colour didn’t matter. He was the best at what he did and for it won based on talent, perseverance and more. The Nazis (Hitler) were furious but was nothing they could do at that stage.

      Again the best man/women won, wins irrespective of race or culture. People/countries will always exploit what they can unfortunately. South Africa was not allowed to compete on the international stage based on apartheid. People train all there lives to represent there achievements. Win or lose at the olympics. Their focus should be on themselves, nothing else let alone the kneeling BS. If I was going to the olympics I wouldn’t even consider or let myself be involved in this nonsense and would purely focus on me. You trained all your life to reach that point money, capitalism or not. It’s about you.

  5. Mark Honan

    Good. Ban them all for life

    • Rae Rae

      Mark Honan you must be fun at parties

    • Noah Caplan

      I bet you’re really tolerant.

    • Chad Mclintock

      Mark Honan I agree it’s about the olympics and nothing else. Simple. You are there to compete not to worry and get involved with anything other than what you are there for.

      • avatar
        Craig Lord - Swimming World Editor-in-Chief

        Which, of course, doesn’t work so well if the guy in the next lane has a doping record and is heading for another hearing into doping yet still in the next lane. Mack Horton and Lily King took it on and emerged Olympic champions in Rio. They raised issues, made their stand and used it all as fuel. That’s part of the Olympic spirit too. Adam Peaty, Sarah Sjostrom, Katinka Hosszu, Chad le Clos, Michael Phelps, Katie Ledecky, Horton and King, Milo Cavic, Cate Campbell, James Guy and many others are all examples of Olympic champions and podium placers who were not afraid to make a stand, even in the week of an Olympic and/or World-Championship campaign. They did it in ways that did not distract, they turned it to fuel; they spoke up for and in support of others and highlighted things that ought not to be. Yes, they were there to compete – and boy, did they compete … but you’re mistaken to think that speaking out and making a stand is not what they’re ‘there for’. If not them, who? Swimming needs more of them, not less. What makes it easier for them to handle that is if others, coaches, team directors, federation leaders, fans and others stand shoulder to shoulder with them when the heat is on. The Olympic Games is a multi-billion-dollar industry and all the issues that go with it are part of “olympics and nothing else”. Athletes want us to treat them like the adults they are: they know when they need to do their job in the pool and know when to chose their moment to make a stand and speak up. The best head coaches and team directors have been those willing to make a stand in support of on in the stead of their athletes at biog moments when there is both a job to do ion the pool AND a message to deliver at the perfect time to do so – during the big event when the biggest of audiences is tuning in.

  6. Rick Parker

    Get off the politics, Swimming World. And stay away from judging others’ English. Your comment contains multiple grammatical errors.

    • Brent Causey

      Rick Parker lol
      It’s not worth arguing with them

      • avatar
        Craig Lord - Swimming World Editor-in-Chief

        Not an argument, Brent. You need to explain what looked like a racist comment but you choose not to. Your choice. It is not your choice to leave racist comments.

    • Brent Causey

      I unfollowed them I’m absolutely not a racist and I have a Masters degree in English it’s just ignorance on their behalf appreciate your comments

      • avatar
        Craig Lord - Swimming World Editor-in-Chief

        Brent, your original message was a fumbled tweet with little meaning beyond the most obvious interpretation in the current climate: racism. That is why I asked you to explain: if, for example, you ‘don’t want to see Colin’ because of your passion for standing during a national anthem, then why not say so and put it beyond doubt. If you don’t explain that original tweet, which you have chosen not to do, then, as we see in other comments, your words will be interpreted as racist. Racism is unacceptable and needs calling out. Your suggestion that showing a picture of Colin is racist is inaccurate and could also be interpreted as offensive. Your English language skills were not questioned by SW: I did question the very clear lack of clarity in your comment. Your subsequent comments make it clear that you do not wish to explain yourself. That is your choice but please don’t play the innocent. If you have the English language skills you claim, then pray use them.

      • avatar
        Craig Lord - Swimming World Editor-in-Chief

        Ignorance is failing to use the skills you claim to have, Brent. You can do much better, including showing us why that comment you left was not racist. I believe it was and if you have a genuine reason to feel otherwise, taking a minute to explain two disjointed and problematic thoughts would surely not be too onerous for you. We’re not talking about politics; we’re talking about racism. It’s unacceptable.

    • avatar
      Craig Lord - Swimming World Editor-in-Chief

      Rick, your view is rejected as inaccurate and biased. The original comment included two sentences and separate thoughts in one tweet-like blob. It needed clarification. None of the responses were political. They were entirely about what is acceptable and what is not: regardless of what your politics are, racism is unacceptable.

  7. Zach Chertok

    The ioc has a long standing policy of not tolerating political action at the games or politicising the games. Still, I’m not sure that this was the right thing to do. The ioc has a responsibility to the global community to also look within its ranks and find an action plan to promote diversity within the organization and remove some of the systemic politics already bred within it’s own ranks – lead by example.

    • Mike McCoulf

      Zach Chertok it’s a good thing it’s not political it’s equality treating everyone equally regardless of skin color has nothing to do with politics

    • Zach Chertok

      Mike McCoulf I didn’t say it was a bad policy – more that the ioc doesn’t live up to it’s own standards nor does it draw the line very well. In that sense I agree with you. And I agree that issues of equity and equality shouldn’t be and aren’t political.

    • avatar
      Craig Lord - Swimming World Editor-in-Chief

      Yes, correct, Zach. That is the question: is it sustainable for the IOC to maintain rules, guidelines and policies out of synch with domestic and international laws and agreements on peaceful protest? It’s a big question for the IOC at a time when its ‘autonomy’ is being called into question on a number of levels.

    • Mike McCoulf

      Zach Chertok it is a bad policy let the athletes take a knee if they choose

    • Zach Chertok

      Mike McCoulf I was referring to the policy of not letting politics into the games. I agree with you that issues of equity and equality are not political and therefore yes, let them take a knee and give voice to a social good – that social good being the promotion and demand for equity and equality. I do believe we are agreeing here.

  8. Cathy Silveira

    My employer (not club) told me… your job is not your political platform. While this business supports your voice on your time, your choice to be employed here, to receive a paycheck here, to represent here, requires adherence to our company policies. We respect whatever decision you make based on your ability to balance the two. Please allow the same respect.

    Just a thought.. would making a statement by NOT participating be a greater voice?

    • avatar
      Craig Lord - Swimming World Editor-in-Chief

      It’s an interesting question, Cathy, though one that comes with this: the vast majority of swimmers who go to the O Games do not get paid (and none get paid by the IOC), have no employer rights and, indeed, sign their rights away in some of the clauses they must sign up to in athlete contracts if they want to compete for their countries at the Games. As such, the comparison with the standard workplace doesn’t really work. Athletes would like it to apply, of course, and have been campaigning for just that as they seek a fairer share of the multi-billion-dollar industry they are kept players in but not key financial beneficiaries of unless they walk away with gold round their neck (and even then, the money that flows is almost all, if not all, self-generated not from Olympic coffers). If the IOC becomes an employer, then what you indicate would certainly have to be considered as a factor. As things stand, your last point is the ONLY way athletes can protest – and then only if they accept double jeopardy and self-harm, which in the workplace and, in many circumstances, in a court room, would not be permitted.

    • Cathy Silveira

      Swimming World I wonder if those athletes receive sponsorship (financial support) that allows them to train, compete etc. Working to find middle ground could allow for compromise. If by the only way athletes can protest, you mean that they are not allowed to walk in a protest such as we did last week, issue a statement as an individual (not representing the Olympic team, or engage in anti-racist activities in their community etc. then there is much work to be done. If you mean that their only means of protest right now is to kneel at the Olympics while representing their country, it would be a country ban—- with the IOC taking an across the board approach. Given that some countries may not allow for protests at home, then this would be applicable.

  9. Mike McCoulf

    Olympic bosses need to shut up and give the athletes respect and let them do what they feel is necessary

    • Chad Mclintock

      Mike McCoulf it’s about the olympics and nothing else.

  10. Mike McCoulf

    Taking a knee to support racial equality is not political what’s political about treating everyone regardless of skin color the same it’s 2020 taking a knee to support equality in 2020, 2021 shouldn’t even be a thing if you are racist get over it and get in the year 2020 we are all humans regardless of skin color gender or what country we come from

  11. Ronna Frndz

    maybe they shouldn’t play the anthem if the athlete wins. Quite honestly if u don’t believe in your country why are you representing then.

    • Erik Lebsack

      Ronna Frndz confusing take but athletes want the opportunities playing for the US brings and then want to act like playing for the US team is oppressive. You can’t have it both ways. The women’s soccer team is a great example and doesn’t even have to do with race. If you are that dissatisfied with your situation and the rules…DONT PLAY FOR AMERICA. But don’t go knowing the situation then play because of the money and opportunity for fame and endorsements and then complain that the flag represents the oppression they endure.

      Not at all saying their feelings are wrong or would black athletes but you can’t have it both ways. You want so desperately to make the US teams and then you protest the country that gave you the opportunity? Doesn’t fly.

      • avatar
        Craig Lord - Swimming World Editor-in-Chief

        It must fly, sometimes, Erik. What you suggest is that the human can ONLY engage in world-class sport if he/she agrees with everything a flag stands for. That’s baloney and simply doesn’t work. Here’s why: in the GDR (as it is with N. Korea and other such places), the athlete gets to stay and compete and ‘benefit’ from the system as long as they play the ‘absolute loyalty’ game of ‘everything for country and flag’. Those who did not feel that way, did not get to train, let alone compete. If the Olympic Games is apolitical, then blind faith in any flag rather misses the mark. If the flag does indeed represent oppression, good for those able top speak up while exercising their right – free of politics – to compete at the highest level because they are the best, not because they signed a paper saying “I’ll always keep my mouth shut and agree that you can use my image in whatever way you chose’, so to speak. It’s way more complex than you suggest.

    • Kainoa Pistorius

      Erik Lebsack sounds a lot like “shut up and dribble”

    • Erik Lebsack

      Kainoa Pistorius so even though they were given this amazing opportunity regardless of color gender or sexuality. They still feel oppressed by the team that gave them the opportunity. Doesn’t that sound like the opposite? Entitled to their opinion of course but then why work or play for the team that oppresses you? Do something else. This is like Adrian Peterson when he was on the Vikings comparing his 6.5 million dollar salary to play 16 games a year to slavery.

    • Kainoa Pistorius

      Erik Lebsack Massah let me work in the house so I shouldn’t care about the Negroes in the field anymore. What an amazing opportunity.

  12. JoAnne Wright Felchner

    Finally. Someone who understands the flag. Protest all you want…but not at the foot of the symbol that gave you the right to protest.

    • Donna Sizemore Hale

      JoAnne Wright Felchner wow you miss the whole point of freedom

    • Peter Scott

      JoAnne Wright Felchner or at the foot of the flag of repression?? Depends on your view point….anyway it is not about a flag which is just a piece of cloth it is about what the flag stands for that is important. It is those that do not respect basic human rights that are the ones disrespecting the so called ‘flag’

  13. Dave Johnson

    If a country wants to protest against another country, is that ok? As long as it’s peaceful?

    • Swimming World

      No. We’re talking about issues that, individually and collectively /with collective support, and through representation, athletes want to show solidarity for and force change. The issues transcend countries and flags and are aimed serving the best interests of the Olympic Movement: no doping, no racism, fair share, fair play, transparency, independent oversight, anti-corruption measures and so on and so forth. I doubt anyone is suggesting politics to the fore. Racism, doping, honouring criminals and convicts, lacking transparency, refusing to act in the face of events harmful to athletes and others … none of that fits the ‘political’ and is far less political than the sports politics that underpin Olympic business, complete with lobbying at the heart of what are clearly political structures … we’re talking issues that speak to ‘the betterment of all…’ … not politics. Craig L

    • Peter Scott

      Dave Johnson the USA did that in 1980……….the Soviets did it in 1984……..why because the Soviets were in Afganistan…..fast forward to 2020 …surprise, surprise who is in Afganistan now and for man, many years……..

    • Dave Johnson

      Peter Scott no, I don’t mean boycotting.

    • Peter Scott

      Dave Johnson I know?. But how do you expect a country to protest another country?? If I stand on the podium and I happen to be from a country that you don’t like how their police force acts am I responsible for the country?? No I am not so you can’t target a country without harming the, often innocent, individual….

    • Dave Johnson

      Peter Scott I don’t know. I mean if I were an athlete and a country had systematic doping I’d think I’d want to publicly shame said country. Can’t we allow a red arm band or something?? ?‍♀️?

    • Peter Scott

      Dave Johnson this was what happen at the last World Swimming Championships. The clean swimmers objected to have to stand on the same podium as drug cheats……what did FINA do? Threatened and tried to punish the clean athletes while appearing to condone and side with the ‘bad’ guys……… you see even those on the ‘right side’ are not always treated fairly by sports organisations. Afterall they are only interested in putting on a good show and making a lot of money. Those protests had nothing to do with countries, racism …just about honesty……..sadly honesty and wanting clean sport is often seen as ‘rocking the boat’ where in fact it should be applauded not condemned. This is repressive government get away with bad things…………..

  14. Paula Maas

    I ? agree that we are all humans and equal regardless of skin color, gender, country or anything else. That being said, I can see both sides. Taking a knee is supporting anti racism, a completely acceptable peaceful protest. The knee makes a statement, and it’s effective due to media attention. But can it also be a political statement in some cases? The IOC might be able to support anti racism in other ways, with other media coverage and advertisements throughout the games. They might want the athletes to be celebrated equally on the podiums, and not differentiated based on anything like whether or not they decide to knee. So the athletes who don’t knee might be accused of being racist? And then their lives or lives of their family members might be in danger (worst case scenario, not most likely scenario)? The athletes who don’t knee likely have other reasons to decide not to knee. Maybe they feel that they can make a statement by their own actions and by supporting the movement in other ways. This is why it’s not an easy decision for the IOC.

    • Paula Maas

      I personally think that taking the knee is fine and an acceptable peaceful protest. but I can see that it would be a difficult decision for the IOC.

  15. Jennifer Shipp Graham

    Protest by giving up your spot on the team- pretty simple- But that would mean hard choices would need to be made- how much do the athletes really believe in the cause vs being armchair activists? Guess we’ll see-

    • Rosemary Mousseau

      I agree David Prunell-Friend. If a big conglomerate is telling you “don’t”, makes you wonder who is holding the IOC purse strings??!! Being courageous means sometimes who have to do the right thing, even if it scares you and you may suffer! These athletes are already their country’s finest. Let’s see them ban together and show the world!! (Christ, if the NFL can change their tune, there “might” be hope for the IOC!)

  16. Andrew Ruiz

    Taking a knee against racism shouldn’t be controversial…

    • avatar
      Craig Lord - Swimming World Editor-in-Chief

      Quite so, Andrew

    • Paul Anthony

      Andrew Ruiz What “racism”? That’s an answer, not a question

  17. Amy Hsu

    The NFL objected to peaceful, thoughtful protests. Look where it got them. Time for the IOC to recognize the injustices. If they can’t do it, then maybe it’s time for the IOC leadership to go

  18. David Moreno

    Times are changing!! Screw the Olympic committee. If ALL the athletes show solidarity, the IOC will be forced to accept it. Athletes can set records w out the Olympics.

  19. Darlene Lumbard

    Ghost of Avery Brundage (racist), I’m with Tommie Smith and John Carlos!

  20. Barbara Price

    I want to personally thank ? all the Caucasians speaking out..What we as African Americans have endured will not change without you. Thank You, Thank You!

  21. Peter Scott

    Just a thought since South Africa was for many years barred from competing in the Olympics for various reasons…….should the current IOC not uphold that same position and bar countries that still perpetuate that inequality?

    • Craig Lord

      Peter Scott yes, that would be pro-active … and avoid the need for athletes to do the job for them

    • Peter Scott

      Craig Lord ?? yes indeed! As we both know that is not going to happen…………’money, money……money’

  22. Ronald Lee

    Is anyone surprised that the Olympics, an event that drives nationalism, does not support racial equality? Let’s take a look at the origin of the Olympics… Maybe it’s time to make CHANGES to this archaic system.

  23. Paul Anthony

    Good for them. The media is putting forward a false narrative for political gain, glad the foolishness will stop at the Olympics

  24. Joan Sauvigne Kirsch

    Don’t accept peaceful protests like kneeling, and then upset when people turn to civil unrest? Let people demo their beliefs!

  25. avatar
    James Nealis

    Who will decide what protests are “acceptable”, Mr. Lord? You? Suppose some athletes feel that abortion is an abomination? Can they stage a ‘right-to-life’ protest at the Games? Suppose some athletes are vegans/vegetarians? Can they stage a protest against those who enjoy a hamburger once in a while or like bacon with their pancakes? Once you open this can of worms you will find it extremely difficult to get the lid back on the can! I wish we could just enjoy watching great athletes of all races competing to be the best without having to endure social and political statements or actions during the games or medal ceremonies.

    • avatar
      Craig Lord - Swimming World Editor-in-Chief

      Of course not me, James. The athletes, collectively, will decide that. In all the years I’ve covered Olympic sport, I’ve known a fair few vegetarians, a fair few on either side of the abortion debate, tons and tons with views on ethics and food and much else: not a single one of those athletes or coaches or others has made an issue of it in the Olympic arena. You miss the point by a million miles. Athletes, through organisations such as Global Athlete, want to be able to express their collective – and, yes, sometimes, their individual views about matters that affect and impact ALL of them. Racism is such an issue; doping is such an issue. Neither of those issues has been dealt with very well down the years by a lot of guardians and governors – and… people have got hurt, harmed and sometimes seriously so, in life-changing ways, the ripple of their hurt extending out to families friends, communities, including coaches being told for years that they did a terrible job because their kids took 4th and 5th etc at the Olympic Games in races with three GDR swimmers on the blocks… and not a single one of those results was ever removed or placed in context in the official record despite all we know and have now known for almost 30 years. In Open water, we’ve seen races take place in waters over temperature upper-limits set because Fran Crippen died… and on it goes. I take your point but what you then don’t explain is how the athlete, how athletes, can ever hope to make any difference to the poor and even damaging culture underpinning the governance of their sports for all too long. Pray explain how athletes press for change if not through peaceful protest when the world’s cameras are on in a realm that has proven itself only ready to change and move at any speed when embarrassed into doing so?

  26. David Prunell-Friend

    Then, it is obvious it is the right thing to do. Kneel Down..!!!