The Olympics altered their motto, then immediately went against its spirit with protest-related fiasco
Earlier this week, the International Olympic Committee voted to slightly change the longstanding motto of the Games to better reflect these COVID-19 times and, in the words of the IOC, the unifying power of sport.
What was once "faster, higher, stronger" - or in Latin Citius, Altius, Fortius - is today "faster, higher, stronger - together".
But this whole "together" thing was at least briefly an exception.
Because when members of five women's soccer teams knelt in Tokyo on Wednesday shortly before their respective games in recognition of the ongoing scourge of racism and racial inequality and the Australian women's team posed with a flag of the country's indigenous people, the IOC got these moments from the official highlight roles which it compiled from these events, while the Olympic social media channels did not include photos of them either.
Nothing says that "we're all in it together" like setting up group demonstrations to promote unity and uplift the marginalized has never existed.
But the IOC quickly pulled back and said Thursday from Tokyo that all further kneeling protests will be shown on official channels.
Only three weeks ago the IOC relaxed Rule 50 of the Olympic Charter, its long-standing ban on protests of any kind. Teams and athletes can now make statements of protest during the presentation before the game or before the race and at press conferences, be it kneeling or with raised fists or similar, but not on the medal stand.
The USWNT and Sweden knelt down before their kick-off on Wednesday. You wouldn't have known that from post-game highlight packages and social media clips, at least for a short time. (Photo by Tim Clayton / Corbis via Getty Images)
Athletes can still be sanctioned for breaking rule 50 on the medal podium, as announced by Tommie Smith and John Carlos at the 1968 Games.
IOC chief Thomas Bach recently told the Financial Times that he does not support the activism of athletes at the medal stand.
"The podium and the award ceremonies are not made ... for a political or other demonstration," said Bach. “They are made to honor athletes and medalists for athletic achievement, not for their [views].
"The mission is to unite the whole world in one place and to compete peacefully with one another. This would never be achieved if the games [became] split."
Ah yes. The "ambivalence" to support the elimination of a persistent systemic degradation of a group of people solely because of their skin color.
While the IOC continues to pretend black people demonstrating in protest against racism are so terrible, the museum's museum in Switzerland is now showing a large photo of the group in a show of hypocrisy that is both bold and unsurprising iconic image of Smith and Carlos. Bare feet, heads bowed and fists clad in black gloves raised into the air of Mexico City on the podium after finishing first and second place respectively over 200 meters.
Given everything that's swirling around these Tokyo Games - from city dwellers who don't want them to happen, to Japanese auto giant Toyota, which is pulling out all of its Olympic advertising, to countless athletes who tested positive for COVID, to the Director of the opening ceremony, who just 48 hours before the event for past "jokes" about the Holocaust, the fourth Tokyo Games official to step down or be forced out of office for misconduct - it seems Bach has far bigger problems with whom he has to keep himself busy.
The Olympics, especially the disgusting hassle and corruption of awarding it and then running it, is one of the most political processes you will ever find. But we shouldn't talk about that, should we? There is nothing to see here, just watch the athletes compete.
"Faster, higher, stronger - together." Unless you want us all to think about rooting out racism and promoting justice. Then we'll take the medal you've won all your life and brand you as the problem, not what you protested.
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