After images of Olympic footballers taking their knees were excluded from official drums and social media channels, the IOC said on Thursday that protesters on their knees would appear in the future.
Players from five women’s soccer teams knelt in support of racial justice on Wednesday, the first day the Olympics were allowed after a decades-long ban.
The concession under Rule 50 of the Olympic Charter, which has long banned any protests by athletes at venues, was finally approved this month by the International Olympic Committee.
The IOC has tried to reconcile the rule, while recognizing and sometimes celebrating the iconic image of American sprinters Tommy Smith and John Carlos raising their fists in black gloves on the podium for a medal at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico.
On Wednesday, the British and Chilean teams knelt before the opening matches and were followed by the players of the USA, Sweden and New Zealand in the later starting matches. The Australian team poses with the flag of the indigenous people of Australia.
These images were excluded from the official Olympic accent package in Tokyo provided by the IOC.
The official Olympic social media channels also do not include photos of the athlete’s activism.
“The IOC covers the games on its own and operated platforms, and such moments will also be included,” the Olympic body said Thursday in an apparent policy change.
The IOC said hundreds of millions of viewers could see footage watching networks that have official broadcasting rights and “can use it as they see fit.”
The long-standing ban on all demonstrations was eased by the IOC three weeks ago, when it was clear that some athletes – especially in football and athletics – would express their views on the ground in Japan.
It was unclear whether the IOC would distribute images of an athlete raising a fist at the starting line, as US sprinter Noah Liles did before his 200m race last year.
Two reviews of Rule 50 over the past 18 months by the IOC’s own commission of athletes have concluded that Olympic athletes do not want to distract the playing field.
The new guidelines allow you to take a knee or raise a fist when performing before the game or before the competition, but not on the podiums for the medal ceremony. The IOC will still discipline athletes protesting on the podium.
The governing bodies of the sport still have the right to veto, and FINA in swimming said that its athletes were forbidden on the pool deck from any gesture interpreted as a protest.