COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – The Team USA Council on Racial and Social Justice, with support of the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee and the Athletes’ Advisory Council, today released its recommendations related to Rule 50 and Section 2.2 to the International Olympic Committee and International Paralympic Committee, respectively, that requests to end the prohibition of peaceful demonstrations by team members at the Olympic and Paralympic Games. 


The Council’s recommendation is built on the foundation that athletes should have the right to peacefully protest and demonstrate against racial and social injustices and to promote human dignity through global sport. It calls for the IOC and IPC to update guidelines to allow for peaceful actions that specifically advocate for human rights and racial and social justice, and distinguishes those acts from to-be-defined “divisive demonstrations” - including, but not limited to, currently prohibited acts of hate speech, racist propaganda, political statements and discrimination.

The Protests and Demonstrations Steering Committee, one of four committees that constitutes the Council, was charged with assessing current policies and offering options in relation to protests and demonstrations at the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Since its inception in September, the steering committee worked in collaboration with representatives from the athlete community, AAC, National Governing Bodies, U.S. Olympians & Paralympians Association, USOPC, and industry and academic thought leaders. The committee gathered data and qualitative input, including an analysis of the opinions of Team USA athletes, and conducted an evaluation of historical and current academic publications about human rights.

The Team USA Council on Racial and Social Justice provided its recommendation to the USOPC, NGBs, IOC and IPC in an effort to show the power and duty athletes have to build a more inclusive world through sport,” said Moushaumi Robinson, 2004 Olympic gold medalist in track and field, AAC leadership member and chair of the Council. “The Council believes the diversity of Team USA athletes is our strength, and that this recommendation can be a catalyst for change.”

In support of this recommendation, the USOPC will not sanction Team USA athletes for respectfully demonstrating in support of racial and social justice for all human beings. This decision addresses the responsibility the USOPC has in the application of IOC and IPC rules prohibiting demonstrations at the Olympic and Paralympic Games. 

“The USOPC values the voices of Team USA athletes and believes that their right to advocate for racial and social justice, and be a positive force for change, absolutely aligns with the fundamental values of equality that define Team USA and the Olympic and Paralympic movements,” said USOPC CEO Sarah Hirshland. “We thank the athlete-led Council for their thoughtful recommendations and look forward to continued collaboration on this important topic with the Council and the international community.”


The USOPC and AAC, like many National Olympic Committees and athlete commissions, have responded to the IOC’s request for input on the topic of demonstration at the Olympic Games. The IOC Athlete Commission is actively soliciting feedback and expects to share an update in 2021. The USOPC will continue to work with the IOC, IPC, AAC, NGBs, respective athlete groups and NOCs around the world to shape a fair and effective policy. 


“We believe that Team USA athletes, in line with athletes and teams in many other sports and leagues in the United States, can be a leading force for global good, and we are proud to advocate for the advancing opportunities and pathways for respectful athlete expression within our sports community,” said USOPC President Susanne Lyons. “Supporting this important work on behalf of Team USA athletes is a next step in our ongoing commitment to empowering the voice of athletes and living Olympic and Paralympic values. We look forward to collaborating further with our athletes, friends and partners around the world to fully harness the unifying power of sport."


While the Protests and Demonstrations Steering Committee will continue to provide guidance, the Council will activate its second steering committee, focused on athlete voice and expression, to continue identifying ways in which the voices of athletes can be amplified via the various platforms in the national and international Olympic and Paralympic movements. 

"The Council's recommendations on IOC Rule 50 and IPC Section 2.2 are a testament to the power of athletes' voices in and beyond the Olympic and Paralympic movement,” said Dr. Yannick Kluch, assistant professor and lead faculty consultant on sport and social impact at Rowan University, and external consultant on the Protests and Demonstrations Steering Committee. “The recommendations, released on International Human Rights Day, work towards centering marginalized voices, particularly those of racially minoritized populations such as Black athletes, in the global sport community by clearly capturing how peaceful protests and demonstrations are a fundamental human right and can serve as a moral compass in promoting human dignity through global sport."

The third steering committee will focus on institutional awareness and cultural change related to USOPC and NGB diversity and hiring policies, followed by the fourth steering committee focused on racism and acts of discrimination within the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic movements.