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(Denver) John Carlos wants the regulations banning protests at the Olympics to be abolished.
The legendary athlete and activist wrote a letter with a large group of renowned American athletes asking the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to develop a new directive in collaboration with athletes from around the world.
Carlos and Tommie Smith raised their fists to the sky on a podium at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics to demonstrate against racial discrimination in the United States. They had been deported for breaking the rules prohibiting such demonstrations. These regulations are still in force today, despite persistent protests to denounce racial discrimination, and the IOC has recently expressed its openness to the idea of reshaping its directives.
“Carlos and Smith risked everything to fight for human rights and their convictions, and they continue to inspire the following generations to do the same,” the letter said. It is time for the Olympic and Paralympic movements to honor their bravery, rather than denounce their actions. ”
Carlos joined the American Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) Athlete Advisory Council (AAC) to send a letter to the IOC and the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) on Saturday. The letter clarified that the AAC had discussed the issue with the IOC Athletes’ Commission.
Earlier this month, in the wake of protests following the tragic death of George Floyd across the United States, IOC President Thomas Bach said the group of athletes “would study different ways” to express opinions during the Olympic Games – while respecting the “Olympic spirit”.
Rob Koehler, director of the Global Athlete advocacy group, said that “sport believes it can operate under its own rules. But it’s wrong. Athletes work together because sports leaders have become too complacent. ”
The USOPC has recently been criticized, in particular for putting hammer throw specialist Gwen Berry on probation last summer after raising her fist to the sky on the podium at the Pan American Games.
USOPC leaders say they are trying to start a dialogue about racial discrimination, and are inclined to change rule 50 – the IOC rule which prohibits podium and site protests competitions under its jurisdiction.
“The athletes will no longer be silent,” the letter said. We are at the crossroads. The IOC and the IPC cannot continue to punish or expel athletes who express their deep convictions, especially when these convictions join the Olympic values. ”