LAUSANNE (AFP) – The head of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Thomas Bach insisted yesterday that protests should be kept out of this year’s Tokyo Games, saying that the Olympics should “unite” the world.
In a meeting of the IOC in Lausanne, Bach stressed the “importance” of a series of recently-adopted directives designed to clarify what is banned and the sanctions for those not respecting the ban, established under Rule 50 of the Olympic Charter.
“The Olympic Games are always a global platform for the athletes and their sporting performances. They are not, and must never be, a platform to advance political or any other potentially divisive ends,” Bach said.
Athletes, coaches, trainers and officials are banned from political protests on the field of play, the Olympic Village, during the opening and closing ceremonies and on the medal podium.
Anyone who does not respect these rules will face sanctions from the IOC, their country’s governing body for sport and their national Olympic committee.
“If this political neutrality is not respected, then the Olympic Games will divide, and not unite, the world,” added Bach.
Athletes will however be allowed to express their political opinions on their social media accounts and in official media settings.