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Rule 50 of the Olympic Charter states that “no kind of demonstration or political, religious, or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues, or other areas.” If violated, athletes face fines, suspensions, and potentially expulsion from the games.
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U.S. fencer Race Imboden wore an “X” on his hand while on the podium of the men’s team foil event in Tokyo, which he called “a symbol of solidarity.” He tweeted that he chose to protest in “support of athletes of color, ending gun violence, and all the athletes and who wish to use their voice on the platform they’ve earned.”
Peter O’Connor protested at the 1906 Olympics. Despite being from Ireland, he was required to represent Great Britain at the games. During an award ceremony, the Irish athlete protested by scaling a flagpole, removing the British flag, and waving an Irish one instead.
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The U.S. women’s soccer team is just one of many to take a knee at the Tokyo Olympics this year. Other teams — including Great Britain, Chile, New Zealand, and Sweden — similarly joined together to protest against racism and discrimination before their matches.