by Hollie Duncan, CurlingAthletesCAN Board Member

On January 9, 2020 the IOC announced new guidelines to Rule 50 of the Olympic Charter that ban athletes from making political, religious and ethnic demonstrations at the Olympic Games.

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 guidelines come in response to protests from athletes at major sports events last year, including the Pan American Games in Lima and the World Aquatics Championships in Gwangju. The guidelines were developed by the IOC Athletes’ Commission in consultation with athletes and the worldwide network of athletes’ commissions.

While Rule 50 of the Olympic Charter already prohibited athletes from protesting at the Games, it did not give much clarity on what counts as “protest”. The new guidelines specify examples, including displaying political messaging in signs or armbands, kneeling, refusing to follow the Ceremonies protocol or making political hand gestures.

Protests and demonstrations are not permitted at “all Olympic venues”, including:

  • on the field of play;
  • in the Olympic Village;
  • during Olympic medal ceremonies; and
  • during the Opening, Closing and other official Ceremonies.

Athletes have the opportunity to express their views during the Olympic Games at the following:

  • during press conferences and interviews;
  • at team meetings; and
  • on digital or traditional media, or other platforms.

If an athlete or participant is in breach of Rule 50 and the Olympic Charter, each incident will be evaluated by their respective National Olympic Committee, International Federation and the IOC, and disciplinary action will be taken on a case-by-case basis as necessary.

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