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Featured Image Credit: PA
By Stewart Perrie
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has reaffirmed its decision to ban any sort of political, social or ideological protest at the upcoming Tokyo Games.
That means taking a knee, raising a fist or wearing apparel that says Black Lives Matter will not be permitted and athletes will face punishments if they break the rules.
Athletes in loads of different sports around the world have been donning the BLM phrase on t-shirts, arm bands and other pieces of clothing before, during or after matches and games.
Some, particularly in America, have also been taking a knee during the national anthem to protest against police brutality.
However, anything of that sort will not be allowed at the Olympics and athletes have been warned against any sort of protest.
Slogans like 'peace','respect', 'solidarity', 'inclusion' and 'equality' will be allowed at the 2021 Games.
It isn't clear on what punishment will be doled out for offenders, however athletes, coaches and staff can face the wrath from three areas: the IOC, the governing body of their specific sport, and their home country's Olympic committee.
The move upholds the Olympics' Rule 50, which addresses the 'demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda' on the playing field, at the medal stand or during the Games' official ceremonies.
According to TMZ Sports, the phrase BLM will be permitted at press conferences, during interviews and at team meetings.
The IOC conducted a review last year and spoke to 3,500 athletes about their feelings on political protests at the Games.
The IOC's Athletes' Commission chief Kirsty Coventry said she has consulted with many athletes about the rule and the majority support the ban on Black Lives Matter.
"I would not want something to distract from my competition and take away from that. That is how I still feel today," she said.
"A very clear majority of athletes said that they think it's not appropriate to demonstrate or express their views on the field of play, at the official ceremonies or at the podium.
"So our recommendation is to preserve the podium, field of play and official ceremonies from any kind of protest or demonstrations or acts perceived as such."
The Tokyo Games were due to be held last year, however had to be delayed due to the pandemic.