Noriko Hayashi/Bloomberg by way of Getty Photos
British girls’s soccer gamers took a knee on the primary day of competitors on the Tokyo Olympics Wednesday, in a protest in opposition to discrimination and racism that was shortly reciprocated by their opponents from Chile.
It was the primary time Olympians in Japan have utilized newly relaxed guidelines on athletes expressing their views.
“Taking the knee was one thing we spoke about as a bunch. We really feel so strongly and we wish to present we’re united,” mentioned Steph Houghton, one in every of Britain’s co-captains, as quoted by the BBC. “We wish to combat all types of discrimination and as a bunch of girls we wished to kneel in opposition to it.”
Soccer gamers from the U.S. and Swedish girls’s squads additionally took a knee earlier than their match — wherein Sweden upset the Americans. Simply earlier than play started, a referee joined the gamers at midfield in dropping to the turf on one knee. An assistant referee additionally took a knee.
Different athletes, together with New Zealand’s girls’s soccer crew, additionally took a knee on Wednesday. Their opponents from Australia remained standing, with their arms intertwined. Moments earlier, the Matildas had posed for his or her crew picture holding a big flag representing Australia’s Aboriginal individuals — a banner that was first raised 50 years in the past.
“We’re delighted that the IOC has made room for athletes to make use of their voices for good on the Olympic Video games and are happy with our athletes for making a world stand for better racial equality,” said Rob Waddell, who’s the New Zealand Olympic Committee’s chef de mission for the Tokyo Video games.
New Zealand says its Olympic delegation contains 33 athletes who’re of Maori descent.
The Worldwide Olympic Committee eased its guidelines on “athlete expression” on July 2, detailing methods wherein Olympians can categorical their opinions whereas additionally observing the IOC’s Rule 50 — which is meant to protect the neutrality of the Olympic Video games.
Beneath the new guidelines, athletes in Tokyo can take a knee or carry out comparable gestures so long as their actions do not goal particular individuals or international locations and should not disruptive.
The Tokyo Olympics’ opening ceremony is slated for Friday. Massive tournament-format sports activities resembling softball and soccer kicked off their opening rounds of group play on Wednesday.