The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has banned political protests by athletes ahead of the 2020 Tokyo games.
In a three-page guideline released by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), athletes are banned from protesting while on the field of play, in the Olympic Village and during medal and other official ceremonies. However, they are allowed to express political opinions during press interviews outside the Village, in meetings and on traditional and social media.
"We believe that the example we set by competing with the world's best while living in harmony in the Olympic Village is a uniquely positive message to send to an increasingly divided world," the IOC said in a statement. "This is why it is important, on both a personal and a global level, that we keep the venues, the Olympic Village and the podium neutral and free from any form of political, religious or ethnic demonstrations."
The IOC makes clear that "expressing views" is different from "protests and demonstrations." Displaying political messaging, gestures of a political nature and refusal to follow the Ceremonies protocol are all examples of protests, the IOC said.
If an athlete fails to follow the IOC guidelines, disciplinary action will be taken on a case-by-case basis in order to limit any "divisive disruption."
According to IOC, the rules are in place to keep a global focus on athletes' performances and on international unity and harmony.
"The mission of the Olympic Games to bring the entire world together can facilitate the understanding of different views, but this can be accomplished only if everybody respects this diversity," it said.
The opening ceremony for the Tokyo Games' is scheduled for July 24.