Olympics chiefs on Friday eased some of its rules to allow athletes at the Tokyo Games to “express their views” both before and after events.
The decision came amid calls to relax rule 50.2 of the Olympic Charter, which states: “No kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas.”
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) had promised to review the rule after the Black Lives Matter movement gained global support.
The US Olympic and Paralympic Committee had already vowed not to sanction American athletes for “respectful” protests supporting racial and social justice at the Tokyo Games.
IOC said it consulted with some 3,500 athletes ahead of the Tokyo Games, which open in three weeks.
What are the new guidelines?
For the first time, athletes can express themselves before starting a competition or after, but not during a game. In that limited period, athletes can take a knee or raise a fist.
Political statements during events, victory ceremonies, and at the Olympic Village are still not allowed, the IOC said.
IOC also stressed that protests must not be “targeted, directly or indirectly, against people, countries, organizations and/or their dignity,” and they cannot be “disruptive” to other competitors.
Athletes who violate the revised guidelines face sanctions, including disqualification and being stripped of medals.
Do the new rules apply to other Olympic events?
The IOC’s Friday decision is limited to the Tokyo Olympics and does not refer to the controversial 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics in February.
China has come under scrutiny and boycott calls over the treatment of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang and the clampdown on freedoms in Hong Kong.