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Olympic Athletes Promised Legal Support If They Protest After IOC Reinforces Ban 

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) recently confirmed their long-standing ban on “demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda” on the field of play, medal podiums, or official ceremonies. A global union and activist group based in Germany responded by promising legal support to any athlete who makes a political or social justice statement at the Tokyo Olympics this summer. 

Simply raising a fist or taking a knee on the field could lead to immediate punishment from the IOC. The Olympic bodys legal team, however, still hasn’t clarified what kind of punishment an athlete would experience should they defy this rule.

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“The IOC also said that slogans such as ‘Black Lives Matter’ will not be allowed on athlete apparel at Olympic venues, though it approved using the words ‘peace,’ ‘respect,’ ‘solidarity,’ ‘inclusion’ and ‘equality’ on T-shirts. The IOC’s athletes’ commission cited support to uphold Rule 50 of the Olympic Charter from more than two-thirds of about 3,500 replies from consulting athlete groups,” according to reports from ESPN. 

“This is precisely the outcome we expected, the Olympic movement doesn’t understand its own history better than the athletes. Any athlete sanctioned at the Tokyo Olympics will have the full backing of World Players.”

“Should German athletes decide to peacefully stand up for fundamental values such as fighting racism during the Olympic Games, they can rely on the legal support of Athleten Deutschland,” Johannes Herber, the chief executive of the independent group representing German athletes, said in a statement.

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In a statement, another athlete group, Global Athlete, encouraged athletes to “not allow outdated ‘sports rules’ to supersede your basic human rights. These types of surveys only empower the majority when it is the minority that want and need to be heard.” 

The IOC claimed cases would each be judged based on merits, and the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee, on Thursday, released a statement saying it “plans to update our recently released policy over protests in response to the IOC’s decision have not changed. We’re disappointed to see no meaningful or impactful change to Rule 50.Until the IOC changes its approach of feeding the myth of the neutrality of sport or protecting the status quo, the voices of marginalized athletes will continue to be silenced.”

Actors who break Rule 50 will be sanctioned by one to three bodies: the IOC, their sports governing body, and their national Olympic Committee. 

It’s still unclear what the punishment would look like for athletes who choose to protest. After Tommie Smith and John Carlos were recently inducted into the Olympic Hall Of Fame after being banned from the games for protesting on the podium during the 1968 Games, IOC officials claimed they would never ban an athlete to the same extent again.

Tokyo Olympics 2020

Tokyo Olympic Organizers And IOC Conflict Over Who Pays For Postponement Of Games

Tokyo Olympic organizers and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) are in the middle of an intense financial feud over who will cover the costs for the “unprecedented yearlong postponement of the 2020 Summer Olympic Games.”

A spokesperson for Tokyo’s organizers, Masa Takaya, recently said that the organizing committee has asked the IOC, which is based in Switzerland, to remove a specific statement on the IOC’s website that suggests the Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, has agreed that Japan would pay for a majority of the postponement costs. This is what began the initial conflict. 

“It will now be the work of the IOC to assess all the challenges induced by the postponement of the Games, including the financial impact for the Olympic Movement. The Japanese government has reiterated that it stands ready to fulfil its responsibility for hosting successful Games. At the same time, the IOC has stressed its full commitment to the successful Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. The IOC and the Japanese side, including the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee, will continue to assess and discuss jointly about the respective impacts caused by the postponement,” according to the IOC.

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For context, media reports in Japan have estimated that the yearlong postponement brought on by the coronavirus pandemic will likely cost up to $6 billion when all is said and done. That’s an estimation, as the actual cost of postponing and rescheduling an Olympics isn’t something that’s ever had to be calculated. In fact, the Olympic games have never actually been postponed before; they have been cancelled three times though, all for war related reasons.  

“It’s not appropriate for the prime minister’s name to be quoted in this manner,” Takaya said. Within IOC’s Frequently Asked Questions page, the organization went on to also claim that Japan “will continue to cover the costs it would have done under the terms of the existing agreement for 2020, and the IOC will continue to be responsible for its share of the costs.”

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After the initial complaint from Tokyo, the IOC removed Abe’s specific name from any questions regarding financial obligations. The edited version is what’s quoted above: “The Japanese government has reiterated that it stands ready to fulfill its responsibility for hosting successful games.”

Regardless of the feud between Japan and the IOC, technically and legally, it’s up to the Japanese government to pay for a majority of the costs for the postponement, however, it’s a relatively sensitive time to be mentioning the costs of a sporting event while there’s a worldwide pandemic that’s already greatly impacting the economy. 

Under the terms of the Host City Contract that Tokyo signed in 2013, the city of Tokyo, the Japanese Olympic Committee and local organizers are obligated to always pay most of the costs. Section 68 of the contract reads: “Unless expressly stipulated otherwise in this contract, all obligations of the city, the NOC and/or the OCOG pursuant to this contract, shall be at their expense.”

The Tokyo Olympics are projected to begin on July 23rd 2021, and as of right now the Japanese Olympic Committee and government itself is focusing on the coronavirus pandemic, and rehabilitating their country/economy. Only time will tell how much this olympic postponement will further affect their economy as well.

Tokyo Olympics 2020

How The Coronavirus May Impact The 2020 Tokyo Olympics

The 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics are nearly five months away, and growing concerns over the worldwide coronavirus outbreak has fans, athletes, and authority figures scrambling to ensure the safety of everyone in Tokyo within the coming months. As of right now, the Games are still going to be held as scheduled from July 24th to August 9th.

According to the most recent reports from the World Health Organization, there have been a total of 28 confirmed cases of the Wuhan Coronavirus, now being classified as COVID-19, in Japan, however, Wuhan, China still holds a majority of the coronavirus patients; 99% of more than 45,000 cases. In the United States there has been a total of 15 confirmed cases, and one death.

Additionally, there are also 175 confirmed cases of the virus on the Diamond Princess cruise ship which is docked and quarantined off the coast of Yokohama, Japan (about 45 minutes away from Tokyo). In response, Tokyo 2020’s organizing committee announced that they’re working on countermeasures for any and all possibilities they can imagine regarding the coronavirus. 

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“Tokyo 2020 will continue to collaborate with all relevant organizations which carefully monitor any incidence of infectious diseases and we will review any countermeasures that may be necessary with all relevant organizations. As you can imagine in circumstances like this, people’s imaginations run wild and they tend to go to the worst possible scenario without getting good facts,” Doug Arnot, who has been on the executive management teams of six Olympics, said

Luckily, when it comes to an event as tightly scheduled and monumental as the Olympics, individuals working behind the scenes are always planning for every worst case scenario imaginable; health wise and beyond. Because of this, the International Olympic Committee and Officials in Japan have made it clear that they have no intention of postponing or cancelling the games despite worldwide “panic,” which as Arnot stated, isn’t fully based on facts.

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Craig Spence, a spokesperson for the International Paralympic Committee, said that “fear is spreading quicker than the virus, and it is important that we quell that fear,” to The Associated Press. While large crowds and heavy travelling is inevitable for the 2020 games, that doesn’t mean that everyone is going to be exposed and turn ill in the middle of the events. Misinformation and fear mongering tactics are making the coronavirus seem like a new plague, when the reality is it’s pretty much just as bad as the standard flu. 

“I’d like to make it clear that there have been no talks or plans [to cancel/postpone] being considered between organizers and the International Olympic Committee since the World Health Organization declared an emergency. The IOC has been in contact with the WHO and its own medical experts and we have full confidence that the relevant authorities will take all the necessary measures to address the situation,” Shinzo Abe, Japanese Prime Minister, told legislators/media outlets, according to The Japan Times.

There are over 11,000 athletes from over 200 countries predicted to be competing in the Games this year. Additionally, over 600,000 overseas visitors/tourists are expected to be travelling to Japan within the two month summer Olympic period. Such a large crowd compacted into a relatively small area poses an obvious risk for airborne disease to spread. The Olympics themselves are still months away, so it’s too early to tell what kind of additional health and safety precautions will be taken to protect the well-being of all Olympic athletes and attendees.