Every four years, athletes from all over the world gather together to compete in the Olympics. The 2020 Olympics were set to take place in Tokyo, Japan, but due to the coronavirus pandemic, they were postponed, and will now be held between July 23, 2021 and August 8, 2021 in Tokyo. There will be 339 events with approximately 11,000 athletes competing from 206 nations.
Although all of these athletes are exited for the Olympics, it seems as though the committee are putting in place specific rules that interfer with specific athletes.
1. Black Lives Matter Ban
Since Colin Kaeprnick took his heroic stance against injustice and police brutality in 2016, many athletes and entertainers have been on a path to find their voice in an era of social justice reform. In 2020 alone, people such as Breonna Taylor, Ahmad Aubrey, and George Floyd sparked protests, outrage, and justice alone due to their unfortunate killings at the hands of racism. The passing of these individuals sparked outrage and fueled people to protest, speak out, and stand besides victims of police brutality and racism in America. The phrase “Black Lives Matter” has been banned from the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. Instead of the phrase BLM, the International Olympics Committee is allowing athletes to wear more generic phrases such as “solidarity”, “peace”, and “respect”. Another institution deciding the way in which athletes, specifically Black ones, should show their activism.
2. Swim Caps
For a lot of people, wearing a swim cap at a swim meet is the exact same as wearing goggles and a bathing suit. Many swimmers use it as a way to decline drag while swimming, while others use it as a way to prevent their hair from getting tangled in the chlorine water. This year, the Olympics have banned SoulCap, a swim wear cap designed specifically for textured (Black) hair. The reason cited for this ban includes the official body of the Olympics saying that elite athletes, “never require to use, caps of such size.’ This statement is untrue as many Black athletes wear swim caps to protect their hair from the harmful chlorine water. In addition to the statement being untrue, it also shows how uneducated officials are about the needs of ALL swimmers.
3. Sha’Carri Richardson
Although Sha’Carri Richardson’s case isn’t directly involved with the anti-Blackness of the Tokyo, Olympics, it does bring up questions about marijuana and athletes. For years, athletes have been using performance enhancing drugs to get an edge in over the competition. But marijuana, much like a lot of things in America, has a deep, dark racial past that still effects society today. In an age where now more than every, weed is becoming legal for both medicinal and recreational use, why can’t an athlete partake? Especially when they are using it in a state where it is legal. In defense of Richardson, three time NBA champion Dwyane Wade tweeted, “But majority of y’all rule makers smoke and probably are investors in THC companies. Let’s stop playing these games.” How can rule makers ban something that an athlete does in their private time and then go back and invest the money they earn via said athlete into a system that you ban them from partaking in?