BIPOC Voices, News & Events

The IOC bans all forms of Protest at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics

We don’t like Rule 50, at all.

words by: Alee Kwong
May 17, 2021

It’s been a long year. The amount of news, tragedy, and weighted emotions from this past year has made it feel like we have lived multiple traumatic lifetimes. While it’s been incredibly heavy for everyone, something amazing came from the ashes of our grief. Immediately following the murder of George Floyd last May, many people around the world took to the streets to protest and started what would become the catalyst for a collective mind shift. Marginalized groups have reclaimed their voices and movements of empowerment have been persistently echoed both on social media and in physical protests like never before.


The Tokyo Olympics are just around the corner, and the Olympic stage is arguably the largest platform for potential protest. The IOC is more than aware of this, with protesting being a well-documented occurrence at the Olympics. From American runners, John Carlos and Tommie Smith, raising their fists and saluting Black Power during “The Star-Spangled Banner” in 1968 to Iranian world judo champion Arash Miresemaeili refusing to fight an Israeli opponent as a way to stand with Palestine in 2004, athletes from across the world have utilized the Olympics to speak on social issues.


Due to this history of protest, the IOC has officially banned all forms of protest. Rule 50 of the Olympic charter states,

“No kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas.”


The IOC has followed up, warning that there will be punishment for any and all who plan on conducting a protest of any kind at the Tokyo 2020 (2021) games. It begs the question, should we even bother to have the Olympics during a time when there’s a surge in COVID variants around the world? If you are staging a protest, make sure to check out these funds and resources as well as bump our protest playlist.


Photo via CBC