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USOPC Creates Athlete-Led Group To Challenge Barriers To Progress & Empower Black Voices

By U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee CEO Sarah Hirshland | June 08, 2020, 6:23 p.m. (ET)

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Dear Team USA athletes,

This week I have heard from hundreds of you as you bravely shared your stories, offered suggestions for progress, demanded changes, and asked how you can help end racism and discrimination against Black Americans.

The pain experienced by Black athletes and by the Black community – in recent weeks and for far too long before the murder of George Floyd – is unconscionable. Your courage is inspirational. For decades you have spoken about equality and unity and sacrificed your moment on the podium to call for change. And we have failed to listen and tolerated racism and inequality. I am sorry. You deserve better. You matter. Black Lives Matter. 

It is time to match your courage. To listen and to understand. To do the work. To accept that addressing racial injustice is everyone’s concern, every day. To remove the barriers, to change the rules, and to empower Black voices to be heard.

Today, I am creating an athlete-led group to challenge the rules and systems in our own organization that create barriers to progress, including your right to protest. We will also advocate for change globally. All Team USA athletes who are interested in participating are welcome. 

Today is just a start. We will continue to listen and will evolve our actions as we hear from you and together find the best ways to effect change. 

Sarah Hirshland
CEO, U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee