Adam Gemili accuses IOC of double standards over ban on athlete protests

Adam Gemili has accused the International Olympic Committee of double standards and believes “all hell would break loose” if athletes’ voices are silenced at this summer’s Games.

The British sprinter feels any attempts to try to stop protests in support of Black Lives Matter at the Tokyo Olympics would be naive.

The IOC has so far maintained its ban on athletes’ protests inside stadiums, at ceremonies and on podiums.

The IOC’s Rule 50 forbids any kind of ‘demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda’ in venues and any other Olympic area and the body concluded the rule should be maintained following an athlete survey last month.

Adam Gemili is on the British Olympic Association Athletes' Commission
Adam Gemili is on the British Olympic Association Athletes’ Commission (Martin Rickett/PA).

Gemili is on the British Olympic Association Athletes’ Commission and believes the IOC are hypocrites for trying to ban protests when they have used images of 200m champion Tommie Smith at the 1968 Olympics raising his fist to protest the ongoing civil rights issues in America at the time.

He said: “This is what I don’t understand, the IOC are so quick to use Tommie Smith, the picture of him, fist raised, but then they are saying ‘actually, no one is allowed to do that’.

“It doesn’t make sense to me. I don’t think you can ban an athlete for protesting and if they do all hell would break loose and it could go south and sour very quickly. They will be very naive to even try to do that.

“The Olympics is not a place to be political, it’s a place for sport and to bring the whole world together but the whole Black Lives Matter movement is more than political.

“It’s about being a good human and equal rights for everyone is not something which should be turned away so easily like they’re doing.

“I find it quite astounding they are still keeping the same stance. I still don’t know what the repercussions will be, but from a lot of athletes and the BOA, they have been very supportive and I don’t think they will protest (against) any athletes who want to use their voices for that movement.”

Gemili, a 4x100m world champion, also confirmed he would take the knee if he made the podium in Japan.

“I would be happy to if I was successful at the Olympics and I had that opportunity,” said the 27-year-old.

“I would definitely protest because I think it’s a place where you should be allowed to express your opinion. I’d be very hypocritical if I’ve been talking all this talk and I wouldn’t do that myself.”