Olympics says NO to Politics


Caleb McDonald, Writer

On January 9, 2020, the International Olympic Committee banned political statements for the upcoming 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan. Explained in the Rule 50 Guidelines developed by the IOC Athletes’ Commission, “It is a fundamental principle that sport is neutral and must be separate from political, religious or any other type of interference. Specifically, the focus for the field of play and related ceremonies must be on celebrating athletes’ performance, and showcasing sport and its values.” 

Recently, Olympic fencer Race Imboden and hammer-thrower Gwen Berry were put on 12-month probation for protesting on the medal stand this month at the Pan American Games in Lima, Peru. For many years the Olympics has been a platform that athletes have used to voice their opinions on certain political issues. This all started in the 1968 Olympics, “when track stars Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised their fists during their medal ceremony to honor Black people suffering racism in America.” But the Olympics now feel they are not the place for these statements, which begs the question if this is a right or wrong decision.

 In a poll of 46 students asked whether they agree or disagree with the Olympic committee’s decision, 58.7% agreed, and 41.3% disagreed. Students also gave great backing to their arguments. Charles Marion, who disagreed with the committee’s decision, wrote, “I think bringing politics into sports can be a “bad” thing sometimes to the environment and atmosphere of the sport but I think outright banning everyone’s ability to publicly bring up issues that they felt they should be addressed is an even worse offense since it can also be seen as a form of censorship.” However, Isabella Caballero, who agreed with the decision, said, “I think it’s a good thing. The Olympics are meant to bring people together and bringing politics into it would take away from that.” 

The Olympics has all the right to drop the use of political statements in favor of a focus on the sports being played. However, in a world in which political problems always occur, where can athletes or representatives go to voice these problems to the world as a whole? Will the Olympics still be this place despite the rules? Will peoples silence allow these problems to fester? Only time can tell, but despite this, the Olympics is still a place of joy and competition that unites the world for two weeks to find which country reigns victorious in each sport.