Racial and Social Justice Demonstrations

    The United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee values the expression of Team USA athletes and believes their right to advocate for racial and social justice, and to be a positive force for change, absolutely aligns with the fundamental values of equality that define Team USA and the Olympic and Paralympic movements.

    In summary, the USOPC’s Delegation Rules:

    Reflect and reinforce the USOPC’s position on racial and social justice demonstrations as previously defined in the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Trials Participant Rules.

    Respect the authority of the IOC and IPC in governing their respective events. The IOC’s Rule 50 and IPC Handbook Section 1, paragraph 3, subsection 2.2 govern all Games participants, including U.S. delegation members. The USOPC’s delegation rules do not replace these international rules; rather, they supplement them by better defining the USOPC’s own requirements and commitments.

    Provide clarity around USOPC support that will be offered to U.S. athletes and delegates who choose to engage in a racial and social justice demonstration at the Games.

    Athletes are welcome to contact athleteservices@usopc.org to learn more about resources available to you.

    As always, the Office of the Athlete Ombuds is also a resource to provide athletes with independent and confidential advice regarding these rules. Athletes may contact the Athlete Ombuds at ombudsman@usathlete.org and 719-866-5000 or visit usathlete.org for more information.

    Dear Team USA athletes –

    Today, as promised, we are sharing the next phase of a collaborative effort between the Team USA Council on Racial and Social Justice and USOPC that defines respectful demonstrations on the topic of racial and social justice as allowed at the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Trials.

    I want to thank all members of the Council on Racial and Social Justice – athletes, NGB and USOPC staff, and outside experts – who gave their time and perspective to this process. When you came forward with your recommendations in December, they reflected specific themes of social injustice and inequality that are prevalent in our society and addressed how those themes directly and personally impact the lives of America’s elite athletes.

    You also made it clear there is a deep desire for Team USA athletes to speak on these issues, and to lead as a positive force in our community.

    This Trials guidance defines latitude for athletes to express their personal perspectives on racial and social justice in a respectful way, and without fear of sanction from the USOPC.

    It’s clear this subject is an important one. Following our announcement around an updated approach to athlete demonstrations, I received an incredible range of opinions directly from members of the Olympic and Paralympic movements – and from many others outside the movements – representing our local, national and international communities.

    While we support your right to demonstrate peacefully in support of racial and social justice, we can’t control the actions others may take in response.

    However, I can commit the USOPC’s support as it relates to the following:

    • Fair application of this guidance at our Olympic and Paralympic Team Trials;
    • Evaluation of this guidance prior to the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020;
    • Creation of opportunities through Team USA platforms to promote America’s elite athletes and their commitment to racial and social justice;
    • Education through Team USA community town hall to promote dialogue and provide a foundational understanding of the Trials rules, along with future engagement opportunities for athletes to share firsthand experience.

    As seen in this education video, experience with demonstration can lead to positive change, benefits and progress, and it may come with emotional or financial consequences.

    I have confidence you’ll make the best decision for you, your sport and your fellow competitors.

    Our Olympic and Paralympic community, including alumni athletes, current athletes and future generations of hopefuls, is unique in its diversity – in race, gender, background and perspectives – but we are united as members of Team USA and we are a powerful force for good.

    This defines latitude for athletes to express their personal perspectives on racial and social justice in a respectful way, and without fear of sanction from the USOPC.

    With appreciation,

    Sarah Hirshland


    U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee

    In August 2020, the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee commissioned the Team USA Council on Racial and Social Justice. The Council was formed when the U.S. and the global community witnessed increased calls for racial justice and systemic change. The athlete-led council, formed to address the rules and systems in the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic movements that create barriers to progress, was committed to working collaboratively to provide solutions and recommendations with the aim of eradicating social injustice and cultivating change through strengthened athlete voices.

    The Council was committed to being athlete-led and collaborating with Team USA athletes, the Athletes’ Advisory Council, U.S. Olympians & Paralympians Association, National Governing Bodies, USOPC and academic and industry thought leaders for recommended solutions. The Council focused on four areas: (a) right to protests and demonstrations; (b) athlete expression and advocacy; (c) institutional awareness and cultural change, and (d) acts of racism and discrimination.

    Each of the Council’s four recommendations can be found below, including an executive summary of the Council’s work:

    Protests and Demonstrations

    Athlete Expression and Advocacy

    Institutional Awareness and Cultural Change

    Acts of Racism and Discrimination

    Executive Summary

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