IOC to Send Letter to Olympic Athletes Reminding Them to Refrain From Any Protesting In Sochi

NBC Protest

In a letter that will be sent to the national Olympic committees that are sending athletes to the Sochi Games, the IOC is reminding all participants to refrain from engaging in demonstrations, political gestures, or protests while in Russia. ESPN reports:

The memo will focus on Rule 50 in the Olympic Charter, which states: "No kind of demonstration or political, religious, or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas."

"We will give the background of the Rule 50, explaining the interpretation of the Rule 50 to make the athletes aware and to assume them that the athletes will be protected," IOC President Thomas Bach said in an interview with The Associated Press.

The charter says the IOC can take action against — even expel — athletes who violate Rule 50, but the committee has said the rule would be "interpreted and applied sensibly and proportionately."

It remains unclear what will happen to athletes who decide to wear a rainbow flag pin or American Apparel's new Principle 6 protest merchandise while at the Games. 

Athlete Ally and AllOut, the activist groups behind Principle 6 responded to the IOC's announcement today.

Said Andre Banks, Executive Director of All Out: "If IOC President Thomas Bach truly cares about principles, he should speak out against the discriminatory Russian laws that clearly violate Principle 6 of the IOC's Charter. These laws not only stigmatize the gay community, they have also ignited a wave of anti-gay violence around the country. It's time to change the Olympic bidding process to ensure that the honor of hosting the Games only goes to countries that respect basic human rights."

Added Hudson Taylor, Executive Director of Athlete Ally: "The 34 Olympians who have joined our campaign feel it is their duty to uphold the Olympic Charter and act in the face of any form of discrimination. Equality is not about politics, it's about principles. The Principle 6 Campaign uses the language of the IOC's founding document to give athletes, fans and global supporters a way to celebrate the Olympic values of non-discrimination and show solidarity with LGBT Russians. How could the IOC object to that?"


  1. jason smets says

    I would like to know why Towleroad hasn’t criticized Katy Perry for presumably allowing her single Roar to be used as part of NBC’s coverage of the Sochi Olympics. Are female pop acts out-of-bounds as far as criticism is concerned?

  2. Tyler says

    I would like to know why Jason thinks that adding a last name to his well-known first name would somehow fool us into not immediately identifying him as the same troll he’s always been without it. Not too subtle, are ya….Rick?

  3. anon says

    Essentially, the IOC knows that the only ones that matter are the organizers and sponsors. Essentially, the athletes and fans are just there for window dressing and can be ordered around at will. The big sponsors like Nike and Coke and NBC have a huge say in how things are run and can do what they want. NBC might be in a bind if there are a lot of competing bids for TV rights, but since they locked down the rights for ten years they certainly are helping to run the show from behind the scenes.

  4. Bryan says

    Nothing – not human rights violations, violence, death, or genocide – must interfere with the massive, juggernaut, four-year-cycle of hype and profit which is the Olympics.

  5. Randy says

    I hope athletes and other participants treat this “reminder” with all the respect it deserves … zero.

    They can’t throw you all out. If it’s just one, they’ll do it. But ten? A small country’s entire team? They would never dare face the backlash.

  6. Pennywise says

    Boycott Sochi. Boycott NBC. In our house, we have blocked NBC and all Nbc Affiliates on our T.V.

    Here’s a list;

    Bravo Media
    Esquire Network (JV)
    Oxygen Media
    PBS Kids Sprout
    TVOne (JV)

    Television Without Pity
    Integrated Media group
    NBC Sports Group
    Comcast Sports Group

    Golf Channel
    NBC Sports
    NBC Sports Digital Network
    NBC Sports Network
    NBCUniversal Hispanic Enterprises and Content
    NBCUniversal News Group
    NBC News
    The Weather Channel (JV)[42]

    No NBC, No Olympics, No Blood Money going into Putin’s hands disguised as advertising dollars.

    Want to see grown men cry over losing 50 billion dollars?

    Boycott the Olympics. Tell a friend.

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