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Thursday, January 02, 2020
IOC President Warns Athletes on Political Stands

International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach has warned athletes against protesting in any form at Tokyo 2020, claiming the Games "must never be a platform to advance political or any other potentially divisive ends".

In his New Year's message, Bach urged athletes to respect their fellow competitors at Tokyo 2020 by refraining from political demonstrations.

The IOC President reiterated his opposition to the "growing politicization of sport", which he claimed "leads to no result and in the end just deepens existing divisions".

A similar sentiment was expressed during an Olympic Summit in Lausanne last month, although podium protests by athletes were not directly mentioned.

There were two protests in the space of 24 hours by American athletes at the 2019 Pan American Games, while Australia's Mack Horton and Britain's Duncan Scott refused to share the podium with China's Sun Yang during the World Aquatics Championships.

The IOC's Rule 50 states that "No kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas".

"The Olympic Games are always a global platform for the athletes and their sporting performances," Bach said.

"They are not, and must never be, a platform to advance political or any other potentially divisive ends.

"We stand firmly against the growing politicization of sport because only in this way can we accomplish our mission to unite the world in peaceful competition.

"As history has shown, such politicization of sport leads to no result and in the end just deepens existing divisions."

Bach added: "Athletes have an essential role to play in respecting this political neutrality on the field of play.

"It is important to note in this regard that there is broad support and understanding among a great majority of athletes that the field of play and ceremonies should not become an arena for political statements or any kind of protests.

"Respecting one’s fellow athletes also means respecting their unique Olympic moment and not distracting from it with one’s own political views."
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