LONDON: Athletes competing at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England, will be allowed to take a knee to support the ‘Black Lives Matter’ (BLM) movement, according to the Games chief executive David Grevemberg.
The American denied that his organisation was “opening Pandora’s Box” adding the ‘Friendly Games’ had a history of allowing freedom of expression.
Australian legend Cathy Freeman wrapped herself in the Australian Aboriginal flag after winning 400 and 200 metres gold at the 1994 Games.
International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach said earlier this week athletes must explore ways they can express themselves “in a dignified way” at the rescheduled Tokyo Games next year.
Protests have erupted across the globe since the killing of African-American George Floyd on May 25 when a police officer, who has been charged with second-degree murder, knelt on his neck for several minutes.
“People say are we opening Pandora’s box but no, we are respecting people’s rights to voice opinions,” said Grevemberg.
“BLM is challenging all institutions right now to really look introspectively at we can do to be more fair, more free, have better equality and better systems of justice that look after people. Sport is no different.”
“We have a lot of questions like ‘why are you politicising sport?’ said Grevemberg, who has been in charge since 2014
“Actually, we are humanising the conversation, giving people an opportunity for freedom of expression and association.
“The convergence of human rights and sport has been a big question for some time and we are not responding to a trend.
“We are actually continuing a conversation we started some time ago.”
The Games will run from Jul 28 to Aug 8, 2022.