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John Carlos, U.S. athletes want new policy for Olympic protests

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John Carlos and the group that protects the rights of U.S. Olympians and Paralympians called on the IOC to abolish the Olympic Charter’s current rule on athlete protests and other forms of expression and develop a new policy.

“Athletes will no longer be silenced,” read a letter written by six leaders of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee Athletes’ Advisory Council and Carlos, the 1968 Olympic 200m bronze medalist who raised a black-gloved first on the medal stand for human rights. “The IOC and IPC [International Paralympic Committee] cannot continue on the path of punishing or removing athletes who speak up for what they believe in, especially when those beliefs exemplify the goals of Olympism.”

The U.S. athletes group wants a new policy, developed in collaboration with worldwide athlete representatives, that protects athletes’ freedom of expression at the Olympics and Paralympics. The letter did not mention specific expressions such as taking a knee or raising a fist.

Earlier in June, the IOC said the IOC Athletes’ Commission will talk with athletes around the world to explore how Olympians can express themselves at the Games while keeping the Olympic Charter in mind.

Rule 50 of the Olympic Charter states in part, “No kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas.”

In January, the IOC Athletes’ Commission published guidelines pertaining to Rule 50. It stated that “protests and demonstrations” are not permitted at Olympic venues, during medal ceremonies, at Opening and Closing Ceremonies and at the Athletes’ Village. “Protests” included “gestures of a political nature, like a hand gesture or kneeling.”

Earlier in June, USOPC CEO Sarah Hirshland announced she was 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.”

In 1968, 200m gold medalist Tommie Smith and Carlos were sent home from the Mexico City Games after raising their gloved fists during “The Star-Spangled Banner.” In 2019, Smith and Carlos were inducted into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame.

Carlos, who turned 75 on June 5, said two weeks ago that he supports athlete demonstrations done respectfully.

“As long as you don’t do an obscene statement,” he told NBC Sports sprint analyst Ato Boldon. “I think you earned your right, as an Olympian, a guy that sacrificed so much to do so much for so many in order just to have that medal.

“As long as it’s not distasteful, and I don’t think the Olympic Committee, international or national, would have the right to take your 15 minutes out of the sun and tell you what you can and what you can’t do.”

Last August, U.S. Olympic hammer thrower Gwendolyn Berry and fencer Race Imboden raised a fist and kneeled, respectively, on podiums at the Pan American Games in Peru. At the time, the USOPC put them on 12-month probation. Hirshland apologized to Berry four weeks ago “for not understanding the severity of the impact her decisions had on me,” Berry said.

“The Olympic and Paralympic movement simultaneously honors athletes like John Carlos and Tommie Smith, displaying them in museums and praising their Olympic values, while prohibiting current athletes from following in their footsteps,” read the letter from the U.S. athletes group. “The IOC and IPC cannot continue on the path of punishing or removing athletes who speak up for what they believe in, especially when those beliefs exemplify the goals of Olympism.

“Let us work together to create a new structure that celebrates athletes who speak about issues in alignment with human rights and the 7 principles of Olympism.”

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World Alpine Skiing Championships on for 2021 after request to delay rejected

Alpine Skiing World Championships
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GENEVA (AP) — A request by the organizers of next year’s skiing world championships in Italy to postpone the event by one year was rejected Thursday by the International Ski Federation.

FIS ruled that the event will go ahead from Feb. 9-21, 2021, in Cortina d’Ampezzo — the highlight of an Alpine season that faces challenges to find safe protocols for international travel and attending races in Europe, North America and China.

The Veneto region of northern Italy was hit hard by the coronavirus and the season-ending World Cup races in Cortina in mid-March were canceled. That week-long event was to be a test for the 2021 worlds.

“The last month of efforts to come to this solution demonstrates the strong collaborative spirit of the ski family and stakeholders.” FIS president Gian-Franco Kasper said.

Organizers in Italy have said they expect losses of about 30 million euros ($34 million) if the worlds are also canceled. They asked for a postponement to March 2022, which would be only weeks after the Beijing Olympics.

“But we will be ready in any case and we will show that these world championships can change the history of a region despite the current difficulties,” Alessandro Benetton, president of the Cortina organizing committee, said in a statement.

Italian racer Sofia Goggia, the 2018 Olympic downhill champion, said she was “happy for Cortina because it will host the first major international event after the coronavirus epidemic.”

Cortina, which hosted the 1956 Olympics, will co-host the 2026 Winter Games with Milan and use the worlds as a showcase for the resort.

The women’s World Cup downhill on the Olympia delle Tofane course each January is one of the most scenic in the sport with a signature jump between tall outcrops of jagged rock.

The Dolomites venue was awarded the 2021 worlds by FIS after missing out as a candidate four straight times from 2013-19.

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Russia track and field athlete clearance frozen due to unpaid fine

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MONACO (AP) — The program allowing Russian track athletes to compete internationally will be frozen because the country’s federation failed to pay a fine on time, World Athletics said Thursday.

The Russian track federation, known as RusAF, owes a $5 million fine and another $1.31 million in costs for various doping-related work and legal wrangles. World Athletics said RusAF missed Wednesday’s deadline to pay.

World Athletics said it would freeze the work of the Doping Review Board, which vets Russian athletes who want the “authorized neutral athlete” status that allows them to compete internationally, and its taskforce monitoring RusAF’s anti-doping reforms.

World Athletics said both bodies will be “put on hold” until its council meets to discuss the situation at the end of July.

“RusAF is letting its athletes down badly,” World Athletics president Sebastian Coe said in a statement. “We have done as much as we can to expedite our ANA process and support RusAF with its reinstatement plan, but seemingly to no avail.”

RusAF president Yevgeny Yurchenko earlier told the Tass state news agency that his federation’s finances were damaged by the coronavirus pandemic and that it had asked for more time to pay.

World Athletics’ statement didn’t directly address that issue, but said Russia hadn’t indicated when it would pay.

Russia was fined $10 million by World Athletics in March, with $5 million suspended for two years, after the federation admitted to breaking anti-doping rules and obstructing an investigation.

The Athletics Integrity Unit said fake documents were used under the previous management to give an athlete an alibi for missing a doping test.

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