Ath­letes fight Olympic ban on tak­ing a knee

New body vows to chal­lenge Games rules for Tokyo 2020 Tay­lor dis­tressed by lack of progress since Mex­ico City 1968

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport - Olympic Games By Tom Morgan SPORTS NEWS COR­RE­SPON­DENT

A new in­de­pen­dent body for track and field ath­letes has pledged to lead the fight against a con­tro­ver­sial rule ban­ning Tokyo 2020 Olympians from tak­ing a knee in sol­i­dar­ity with the anti-racism move­ment.

Chris­tian Tay­lor, a dou­ble Olympic cham­pion and in­au­gu­ral pres­i­dent of the Ath­let­ics As­so­ci­a­tion, im­me­di­ately vowed to tackle the In­ter­na­tional Olympic Com­mit­tee over its rule pro­hibit­ing po­lit­i­cal protests. Speak­ing to The Daily Tele­graph, the Amer­i­can triple jumper, who will com­pete at the re­ar­ranged Games next year, said the Pre­mier League had helped set a “beau­ti­ful and so pow­er­ful” prece­dent in tak­ing the knee with the bless­ing of gov­ern­ing bod­ies.

Sup­port for Black Lives Mat­ter is likely to con­tinue at next year’s

Games, he sug­gested, de­spite the IOC’s con­tro­ver­sial rule 50, which also pro­hibits demon­stra­tions against racism or dis­crim­i­na­tion.

Tay­lor said it was dis­tress­ing that lit­tle progress had been made at the Olympics since two African-Amer­i­can medal­lists, Tom­mie Smith and John Car­los, each raised a black-gloved fist dur­ing the play­ing of the United States na­tional an­them in Mex­ico City in 1968.

“There’s a great sig­nif­i­cance of the podium be­cause the world is watch­ing,” he said. “Ev­ery­one is say­ing how strong the sym­bol­ism is, but we’re talk­ing 50 years on and noth­ing has changed: the ath­letes, if they go up to protest, will still be pun­ished. We find this to be a press­ing mat­ter and some­thing that we will push for change be­cause we know it does go against our hu­man rights.”

Fifa, the Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion and America’s Na­tional Foot­ball League were among ma­jor sports or­gan­i­sa­tions to re­move sanc­tions last month for peace­ful protest, fol­low­ing the death in po­lice cus­tody of Ge­orge Floyd, an un­armed black man, in the United States in May. The as­so­ci­a­tion says its aim is to pro­vide “track and field ath­letes with a mean­ing­ful voice, to fight for stronger ath­letes’ rights, and to seek an ath­letes-first ap­proach to our sport”.

At its head is Tay­lor, who pre­vi­ously joined calls for an in­quiry into Lord Coe’s busi­ness deal­ings fol­low­ing a Tele­graph in­ves­ti­ga­tion into his role as World Ath­let­ics pres­i­dent.

The IOC is this week­end due to ap­point the dou­ble Olympic cham­pion as a mem­ber, de­spite pre­vi­ously sus­pend­ing him from join­ing be­cause of his role as chair­man of CSM Sport & En­ter­tain­ment, a global brand­ing agency which works with a num­ber of sports stars and firms with links to the Olympics. Lord Coe’s spokes­woman ve­he­mently de­nies any con­flict of in­ter­est or lack of trans­parency, but Tay­lor said greater scru­tiny was still needed.

Sym­bolic: Tom­mie Smith’s black-gloved raised fist in Mex­ico City in 1968

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