Lord Coe is in favour of athletes taking a knee at next summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo and says he is proud of the stance athletes are taking in support of equality.
The World Athletics president has joined a growing number of voices calling for the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to relax their rules that prevent athletes from protesting.
Under current regulations, competitors are unable to make gestures or demonstrations that could be construed as religious, racial or political, but Coe, an IOC member, believes it is time for a rethink.
“I was very clear that, if an athlete wanted to take the knee in a medal ceremony, or before a competition, I have absolutely no problem with that as long as it is done in a respectful way – in fact the way that Tommie Smith and John Carlos and Peter Norman effectively did 52 years ago in Mexico,” Coe said.
“As long as it is done respectfully, I think this is perfectly acceptable and I don’t want to be the federation president that sort of says ‘the computer says no here’.”
The IOC has previously stated it will open dialogue with athletes to canvas views ahead of the delayed Tokyo Games, which are set to get underway on July 23, 2021.
However Coe, the head of the athletics governing body, said he is proud that his sport have already unequivocally offered their support and solidarity.
“Athletes do feel strongly about that, from wherever they come from and whatever their cultural background, and I know from the discussions I had with many of the athletes, black and white, over that period that they wanted the opportunity to be really clear about what our sport stood for,” Coe added.
“I am really proud that they are going to do that and they do that with my blessing.”
Tokyo Olympics costs rise to £11.5bn
The official cost of the postponed Tokyo Olympics has increased by 22 per cent, the local organising committee revealed on Tuesday as it unveiled its new budget.
In an online news conference, organisers said the Olympics will now cost $15.4bn (£11.5bn) to stage, up from $12.6bn (£9.4bn) in last year’s budget.
The added $2.8bn (£2.1bn) is the cost of the one-year delay due to the coronavirus pandemic, with added expenses coming from renegotiating contracts and measures to combat COVID-19.
The budget shows the Switzerland-based International Olympic Committee is contributing $1.3bn (£1bn) to cover costs of the games but its contribution to Tokyo will not increase, according to Gakuji Ito, the organising committee’s chief financial officer.
Audits by the Japanese government over the last few years, however, suggest the costs are higher than officially stated and are at least $25bn (£18.6bn).
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