Dina Asher-Smith, Britain’s golden sprint girl, has warned Olympic chefs not to punish her or any other athlete if they kneel on the podium in Tokyo.
With the troubled opening of the Games on Friday, the International Olympic Committee also faces increasing pressure from former decorated medalists to drop a ban that divides political protests.
The IOC had relaxed the rules of the competition in recent weeks to allow women footballers in the GB team to follow the England football team in making the gesture against racism before the match.
However, he maintained his resolve to potentially punish medalists, with national bodies informed that the podium remains sacrosanct.
Asher-Smith, one of Britain’s top hopes for a silver medal or better on the track, hit back Thursday saying it would be “unworkable” and organizers “would shoot themselves in the foot”.
“When it comes to people’s voices, there is very little you can control,” she said. “When people are very attached to something, especially when it’s something that is close to your heart – especially for me that topic would be racism, as a black woman you think of racism – I just think that you can’t control people’s voices on it. “
The gesture of taking the knee has divided the sport for months, with English football fans stirring controversy at Euro 2020 by booing the gesture.
The IOC established its Rule 50 guidelines approximately five months before George Floyd’s death in America and the Black Lives Matter movement that followed.
“No kind of political, religious or racial demonstration or propaganda is allowed in the venues, venues or other Olympic areas,” the rule originally stated.
Asher-Smith, who stopped before declaring whether she would kneel if she won a medal in Tokyo, said the rule is “an incredibly difficult thing to do.” She drew comparisons to 1968 when American sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised their fists on the medal bar in Mexico.