Colin Kaepernick may have made an impact in the United States, but athletes from around the world will not be able to use their athletic status as a platform for social change, according to the IOC.

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The International Olympic Committee has stated in this year’s guidelines that protesting nor political stances will be tolerated in Tokyo.

“We believe that the example we set by competing with the world’s best while living in harmony in the Olympic Village is a uniquely positive message to send to an increasingly divided world,” says the guidelines mission statement.


“This is why it is important, on both a personal and a global level, that we keep the venues, the Olympic Village and the podium neutral and free from any form of political, religious or ethnic demonstrations.”

Here are the specific rules set out by the committee for protesting:

  • Displaying any political messaging, including signs or armbands
  • Gestures of a political nature, like a hand gesture or kneeling
  • Refusal to follow the Ceremonies protocol.

In 1968, the mot political stance was taken by American Olympians John Carlos and Tommie Smith, who took to their winner podiums and raised their fists to raise awareness for Civil Rights.