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The International Olympic Committee has banned its social media teams from posting pictures of athletes taking the knee to protest against racism and online hate at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

The directive was delivered before Team GB’s women’s first football match against Chile on Wednesday, according to The Guardian.

Both teams went on to take the knee before the match, which was shown on live TV. This was followed United States, Sweden and New Zealand teams before their matches.

However, these pictures were not posted on the IOC’s social channels, official Tokyo 2020 live blog, or its Facebook and Twitter pages and its Instagram site.

“As players in Great Britain we’ve been taking the knee in the club and international matches and we felt strongly as a group that we wanted to show support for those affected by discrimination and equality,” said Steph Houghton, one of Team GB’s three captains.

Why did this happen?

  • IOC recently relaxed Rule 50, which had previously forbidden athletes to make any kind of “demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas”.

  • Peaceful protest is now allowed on the field of play, provided it is done without disruption and with respect for fellow competitors.

  • However, there could be sanctions for any protests made on the medal podium.