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Dina Asher-Smith urges Olympic Games to allow podium protests

·2-min read
Photo credit: Marco M. Mantovani - Getty Images
Photo credit: Marco M. Mantovani - Getty Images

Banning athletes from taking the knee at the Tokyo Olympics would be 'completely unenforceable', Dina Asher-Smith has said, adding that 'protesting and expressing yourself' are a 'fundamental human right'.

The British sprinter welcomed the International Olympic Committee (IOC)'s decision to roll back competition rules and allow athletes to protest on the field of play, but questioned the threat of unspecified sanctions that linger over the podium.

'I see protesting and expressing yourself as a fundamental human right,' Asher-Smith said. 'If you were to penalise someone for standing up against racial inequality, how on earth would that go? How on earth are you going to enforce that?

'When people feel strongly about something, particularly when it's something that’s so close to your heart – and as a black woman you think about racism – I just think you can’t police people's voice on that. That's an incredibly difficult thing to do.'

Had the IOC kept Rule 50 in place – which states that 'no kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas' – they would've been 'shooting themselves in the foot', the 25-year-old continued.

'I did see it as completely unenforceable and I think they had no choice but to lift it, otherwise they would have been faced with loads of athlete protests at the Games and it would have been very embarrassing for them,' Asher-Smith said. 'Unless they want to say they are against people being against racism, I didn't see how that was going to happen.

'Some of the Olympics' most iconic moments have been the black power salute, by Tommie Smith. That is something people remember the Olympics for, something they're very proud to see at the Olympic Games. So to think they're suddenly going to get up and say 'absolutely not', I think they'd be shooting themselves in the foot.'

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