By Paul Jones
Welsh Olympians have been asked to speak out on issues of racism and inclusivity ahead of next year’s delayed Games in Tokyo.
All of Britain’s top sports stars have been urged to make their feelings known amid the prospect of high profile protests in Japan.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has showed signs of stepping back from its usual blanket ban on what it calls “political, religious or racial propaganda” by vowing to open up a dialogue with athletes.
And members of the British Olympic Association’s Athletes’ Commission have called on potential Tokyo-bound athletes to tell them their concerns in a bid to shape the way the IOC will address the issues in Japan.
It is understood the commission would support moves to permit athletes to take the knee in support of the Black Lives Matter campaign.
Welsh sprinter and Olympic hopeful Sam Gordon has spoken recently of his regular experiences of racism in Cardiff.
In an open letter to athletes, commission chairman Ben Hawes wrote: “We are pleased the IOC has moved to ‘condemn racism in the strongest terms’ and has requested its IOC Athletes’ Commission to open dialogue with the world’s athletes to explore ways in which we can best express our support for the principles of the Olympic Charter.
“With the full support of the leadership of the BOA we wish to represent the views of British Olympic athletes to the IOC’s Athletes’ Commission and other forums.
“To help inform and shape our views on the important and timely debate about race and sport we will proactively work with other athlete bodies in the coming weeks to ensure we have a representative position on the way to drive change.
“We ask you as athletes to reach out to us, either directly or through your sport’s athlete representative, to ensure we are hearing your voices.”
The unprecedented displays of solidarity with the Black Lives Matter campaign in the wake of the death of George Floyd in Minnesota raised questions over how the IOC would handle prospective displays of support in Tokyo.
Yesterday, the members of our Athletes’ Commission wrote an open letter to all British Olympic athletes in the light of the recent #BlackLivesMatter movement across the world.
Read it here ⬇️
— Team GB (@TeamGB) June 14, 2020
Despite initially inferring its strict rules would continue to be enforced, there are now hopes a consensus can be reached which will allow athletes to express their feelings without fearing censure.
The Global Athlete movement says the stance of the IOC in potentially banning athletes who kneel in support of anti-racism protests is a breach of human rights.
Rule 50 of the Olympic Charter states that “no kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas”.