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Tokyo Olympic Games Footballers kneel to start a new era of gaming activism

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Tokyo Olympic Games Footballers kneel to start a new era of Olympic activism

The referee blew his whistle, the British players threw themselves at each other and they fell to their knees. Their Chilean counterparts responded in kind, all taking a knee in Sapporo’s dome.

An hour later, American and Swedish players in Tokyo took part in a joint unprecedented gesture against racism by Olympic teams on Wednesday.

On the opening day of the Tokyo Games, the women’s soccer players were the first female athletes to use the Olympic platform for activism.

Long limited by the International Olympic Committee, such protests within limited parameters are now allowed at the Games on the playing field.

The British players decided at a team meeting before flying to Japan to fulfill the gesture, which was presented in the last year of club matches in the Super League for women in England.

Unlike sports like the NFL, where players take a knee during the national anthem, in football this happens just before the start.

In 2016, Colin Copernicus knelt for the first time instead of standing during the anthem while playing for the San Francisco 49ers.

Football previously avoided any form of activism in matches. But FIFA dropped its policy last year after players in Europe decided to use matches to protest racial injustice caused by the death in Minneapolis of George Floyd, a black man at the hands of a white police officer.

FIFA also told referees to use common sense and allow players to display T-shirts with messages against racism, which were previously banned in football.

The IOC allows gestures of activism – if permitted by the governing body of the sport – only before or after the official start of the Olympic Games.

The protests on the podium are still out of bounds, prohibiting the repetition of the raised black-gloved fists of American sprinters Tommy Smith and John Carlos at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico.

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