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  • Canadian Athletes Offer Rule 50 Changes


    (ATR) The Canadian Olympic Committee Athletes’ Commission presents seven recommendations on how to improve Rule 50 of the Olympic Charter.

    The IOC's Rule 50 is intended to protect the neutrality of sport. (ATR)
    The recommendations highlight the belief of Canadian athletes that there needs to be more clarity to the second clause of the IOC’s long-standing rule that states “No kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas.”

    Among the COC AC recommendations to the IOC Athletes’ Commission are to “Clearly define the terms used within Rule 50 including what constitutes a Demonstration or “Protest” or “Propaganda.”

    The COC AC also wants to “Establish provisions for what is viewed as an acceptable Demonstration based on the values and principles of Olympism” and to “Establish clear parameters for an acceptable Demonstration that is peaceful and respectful of other athletes and countries.”

    Rule 50 should also be amended to “Clearly define and outline the consequences and the “degrees of violation” around Demonstration, Protest and Propaganda.”

    There is also a call to create an area where athletes can protest without interfering with the competition.

    “Before making our recommendations, we solicited a wide range of feedback from as many stakeholders as possible to balance the varying points of view, communicate the majority perspective and highlight where Canadian athletes did not have strong collective perspectives,” said two-time Olympic champion in trampoline and COC AC Vice-Chair, Rosie MacLennan.

    Canadian athletes want Rule 50 amended. (COC)
    None of the recommendations were made without a clear majority of the Canadian athletes supporting them. Their views were gathered through one-on-one outreach, a public webinar, a Q&A open to all National Team athletes and a survey sent to all Canadian athletes.

    The Canadian call for more clarity and options for expression when it comes to Rule 50 is shared by German athletes.

    The results of a survey by the German Olympic Sports Federation (DOSB), released on Friday, found around half of the responding athletes believe they are not sufficiently informed about Rule 50 and want more information on it. This includes a desire to have a comprehensive list of possibilities for expressing opinions.

    The survey found 54 percent agree with the rules governing expression of opinion during the Olympic and Paralympic Games but 58 percent believe athletes should in the future have the opportunity to express their views on topics including politics, racism, and discrimination more clearly.

    Only about 20 percent of the 1708 German athletes from 44 different sports took part in the survey, however.

    The Olympic Federation of Ireland (OFI) released the results of its survey of Irish Olympians and Olympic hopefuls in mid-August. Of the 19 percent who responded to the survey, 62 percent “indicated some form of protest should be allowed but with a strong preference for forms of protest that would not involve or impact the podium”.

    Australia released its findings earlier in August. It found about 60 percent of Australian athletes were in favor of some sort of self-expression but more than 80 percent believe personal or political protests should not happen during Olympic competition or on the medal podium.

    The IOC Athletes’ Commission is currently consulting with athlete groups around the world about Rule 50, which is intended to protect the neutrality of sport and the Olympic Games.

    The Athletes’ Commission plans to submit its first report to the IOC Executive Board in December and make final recommendations in the first quarter of 2021.

    The IOC in January of this year released guidelines for athletes going to Tokyo 2020, saying that they could express their opinions at press conferences and mixed zones and on social media but that political gestures such as kneeling on the podium were not allowed.

    The issue has moved to the front burner with the global support of the Black Lives Matter movement in the wake of George Floyd’s death while in the custody of Minneapolis police in May.

    Written by Gerard Farek

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