John Carlos wants to abolish the rule that prohibits protests at the Olympics.
The renowned Olympic protester has written a letter with an influential group of American athletes, asking the IOC to establish a new policy carried out in collaboration with athletes around the world.
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Carlos and Tommie Smith raised their fists at the medal stand at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics to protest racial inequality in the United States. They were sent home for violating the rules prohibiting such protests. Those rules remain in force today, although in the wake of global protests against racial injustice, the IOC has recently expressed its willingness to rethink them.
"Carlos and Smith risked everything to defend human rights and what they believed in, and continue to inspire generation after generation to do the same," the letter said. "It is time for the Olympic and Paralympic movement to honor their bravery rather than denounce their actions."
Carlos joined the leadership of the Athletics Advisory Council of the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee by sending the open letter to the International Olympic and Paralympic Committees on Saturday. The letter said that the AAC had discussed the problem with the IOC Athletes' Commission.
This month, with protests stemming from the United States assassination of George Floyd, IOC President Thomas Bach said the group of athletes "would explore different ways" of expressing opinions during games, while "respecting the Olympic spirit. "
Rob Koehler, director of the advocacy group Global Athlete, said "the sport believes they can operate under a separate rule of law. But they cannot. The athletes are working together as collectives because the sports leaders have become too complacent."
Also this week, the head of the Caribbean Association of National Olympic Committees came out in favor of a new wording for Rule 50, arguing that the IOC's frequently cited idea that sport should be free of politics is unrealistic. .
"Think of the laudable efforts regarding North and South Korea," wrote Brian Lewis. "Think about alignment with the United Nations. However, sport cannot choose and choose only the political issues and campaigns that it likes."
The USOPC came under a harsh spotlight, in part because it put hammer thrower Gwen Berry on probation last summer after he raised his fist to the medal stand at the Pan American Games.
USOPC leaders have said they are trying to expand the conversation about racial injustice, and are open to lobbying for changes to Rule 50, the IOC rule that prohibits protests at the medal stand and other places in line. in the games.
"Athletes will no longer be silenced," the letter said. “Now we are at a crossroads. The IOC and the IPC cannot continue on the path of punishing or eliminating athletes who stand up for what they believe, especially when those beliefs exemplify the objectives of Olympism. "