As Bard opened the 34th annual Stockholm Pride Festival earlier this week, he called on the Swedish sportsmen and women to either protest Russia’s LGBT rights record at the games, or stay at home.
Political statements have found their audience in the arena before – most famously in 1968 when US sprinter Tommie Smith won the 200-metre dash and climbed the medal podium with third-place John Carlos to raise their fists in the Black Power salute. Yet the Olympic Charter does forbid such acts.
“No kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas,” reads chapter 50, paragraph 3 of the 103-page long “constitution” of the Olympic games.
Every athlete who competes in the Olympic Games signs a contract with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and thus has to follow these rules. But what if they don’t?
“They would most probably be disqualified,” Swedish Olympic Committee spokesman Björn Folin told The Local.
While there is no fine, no jail, nor tar and feather, some observers would argue that being disqualified from the most important international sporting event in the world comes close to capital punishment for a top athlete.
Also, such an act might just be logistically unfeasible, Folin noted.
“There are people on the ground who check what the athletes are carrying,” he said.
He also deemed it highly unlikely that the Swedes would emulate the 1968 Black Power protest.
“I doubt it,” Folin said. “Because we Swedes usually stick to the rules.”
Steffen Daniel Meyer