Football players at the Olympic Games have their knees on their knees before the kick-off in their games on the first day of action at the Tokyo Games

July 21, 2021, 10:06 am

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TOKYO – The referee whistled and the British players looked at each other and dropped to their knees. Your Chilean colleagues reacted in the same way and all knelt in the Sapporo Dome.

On the first day of action in Tokyo, the soccer players were the first to use the Olympic platform to demonstrate their activism.

Restricted for a long time by the International Olympic Committee, such protests are now allowed within limited limits at the games on the field.

The British players, at a team meeting prior to their flight to Japan, decided to perform the gesture that was shown at club matches in the Women’s Super League in England last year.

Unlike in sports like the NFL, where players kneel during the national anthem, in football it happens just before kick-off.

In 2016, Colin Kaepernick first kneeled instead of standing during the anthem while playing for the San Francisco 49ers.

Football has previously avoided any form of activism at games. But FIFA eased its policy last year after players in Europe decided to use games to protest racial injustice sparked by the death of George Floyd, a black man, by a white police officer in Minneapolis.

FIFA also urged referees to use common sense and allow players to display t-shirts with messages against racism that were previously banned in football.

The IOC allows activist gestures – if allowed by the umbrella organization of this sport – only before or after the official start of the Olympic Games.

Podium protests are still banned and forbid any repetition of the raised black-gloved fists of American sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City.

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