Senior Olympic chief Dick Pound rejects the idea of allowing podium protests after suggesting taking a knee would be ‘inarticulate’
- IOC guidelines clarify banned protests include taking a knee and other gestures
- Several sports have moved to allow protests in the wake of George Floyd’s death
- Pound, the longest-serving IOC member, has rejected idea of podium protests
A senior Olympic chief has risked a backlash from black athletes after suggesting taking a knee on a podium would be ‘inarticulate’ and that rules on protests should not be changed.
Rule 50 of the Olympic charter states that ‘no kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas’.
In January, the International Olympic Committee also clarified that ‘kneeling’ or ‘hand gestures’ at medal ceremonies were banned and could lead to disciplinary action.
Several sports have moved to allow protests in the wake of George Floyd’s death
However, in the wake of George Floyd’s death in the summer, the IOC asked their athletes’ commission to consult with athlete groups to ‘explore different ways’ for Olympians to express their views ahead of the Tokyo Games.
But in an outspoken interview, Dick Pound, the longest-serving IOC member, has rejected the idea of allowing podium protests.
The Canadian said: ‘If somebody takes a knee, you’ll never know if you’re watching on TV or from the stands if it’s actually about racial discrimination or about fluoride in the water. It’s inarticulate.
‘What if I win something and everybody else on the podium is rolling around in some kind of protest? That’s not right either.
Several sports moved to allow protests in the wake of George Floyd’s death in police custody
‘There’s a time and a place for everything. You have all kinds of human rights and you don’t go shouting about those things at a church service or at a funeral.
‘If you’re asked to wait five or 10 minutes out of respect for your fellow athletes, your human rights really are not infringed.
‘Your right to protest and draw attention to social issues is not abrogated. It just means you have to wait five minutes until the end of the ceremony and go to the press conference and say whatever you want.’
Speaking to the International Sports Press Association, Pound also questioned the Black Lives Matter movement. He added: ‘All the oxygen is being taken up by the George Floyd incident these days.
‘There’s all kinds of different discrimination that doesn’t result from police brutality. There’s a different dynamic.’
‘Taking the knee’ was pioneered by NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick (centre) in 2016