The media company started by Lakers star LeBron James is blasting the ban on political protests on the medal stand during the Olympics.
James’ media company, The Uninterrupted, is accusing the International Olympics Committee (IOC) of “silencing athletes” with its Rule 50, Fox News reported.
“Rule 50 is a rule in the Olympic Charter that bans any kind of demonstration and prohibits any opinionated political, religious or racial propaganda at the Olympic site in 2021,” a Twitter message from the group says.
“The only time an athlete is able to speak freely is at press conferences and to the media, but not on the Olympic podium when the world is watching,” the statement continues.
“Simply put, we see this as a way of silencing voices, and as advocates for Athlete empowerment, we take a stand against it,” the group adds.
“Sport is not neutral. When athletes speak up – whether from a stadium, gymnasium, or track – they start conversations and things change,” the company added.
The group concluded by saying, “Give athletes the chance to show up fully and to make change.”
The IOC ruled that protests must meet the “Fundamental Principles of Olympism.” Protests against particular people or countries and cannot be disruptive or already banned by the IOC.
“When expressing their views, athletes are expected to respect the applicable laws, the Olympic values, and their fellow athletes. It should be recognized that any behavior and/or expression that constitutes or signals discrimination, hatred, hostility, or the potential for violence on any basis whatsoever is contrary to the Fundamental Principles of Olympism,” the IOC ruled.
The IOC also laid out possible discipline for athletes that break the rules.
“While the guidelines offer new opportunities for athletes to express themselves prior to the competition, they preserve the competitions on the Field of Play, the ceremonies, the victory ceremonies, and the Olympic Village. This was the wish of a big majority of athletes in our global consultation,” the IOC said.
Some U.S. sports teams – such as the U.S. Women’s National Team, have made a habit of protesting during the anthem at international competitions: