Competitors at this year’s Commonwealth Games in Birmingham will be allowed to take a knee or display a symbol in solidarity with a particular cause as organisers unveiled a set of “guiding principles” for athlete advocacy.
Athletes will be able an Indigenous or Pride flag during a victory lap, raise a fist on the podium, or speak out in favour of other social justice causes.
Hate messages and protests aimed explicitly at a specific organisation, person or country, however, won’t be permitted.
“It is the belief of the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) that athlete advocacy and activism humanises, rather than politicises, sport,” said president Louise Martin as she unveiled the Athlete Advocacy Guiding Principles on Wednesday.
“I am proud of our approach to help strengthen the athlete voice. We want to encourage the positive, not police the negative.”
The guidance is based around three principles with the CGF respectful and understanding that athletes may want to make positive expressions of their values in line with the CGF’s principles of humanity, equality and destiny.
The CGF also recognises that athletes are inspirational leaders and advocates for integrity, and any such positive expressions of values are subject to the CGF Charter of Good Conduct.
The principles are a departure from Rule 50 of the Olympic Charter that stipulates “no kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas”.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC), however, relaxed the rules for last year’s Tokyo Games, allowing athletes to express themselves politically as long as their gestures were not disruptive and met certain other criteria.
The IOC also did not sanction Ukrainian skeleton slider Vladyslav Heraskevych at the Beijing Winter Olympics earlier this month after he flashed a “No war in Ukraine” sign, referring to the tense political situation with Russia.
The governing body said the 23-year-old’s actions were a general call for peace.
The Commonwealth Games in Birmingham run from July 28 to August 8.