The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Athletes' Council has launched an online portal for athletes to register and take part in a consultation on athlete protests at the Paralympic Games.
Athletes have until 24 August to register for the online portal with focus group sessions then taking place throughout September with the IPC hoping to better understand how athletes could protest at the Paralympic Games whilst still respecting the values of the Paralympic movement.
The IPC Athletes Council chair, Chelsey Gotell, said this provides “a fantastic opportunity for Para-athletes to understand more about the current rules, share what subjects they feel passionately about, and give a viewpoint on how they believe these subjects could be best communicated at the Paralympic Games.” She continued “We all know that athlete protests at the Games is something of a Pandora's box. The last thing we want to do is create a free-for-all at the Games where Para-athletes are free to protest on any subject they like, including ones the wider world will find repulsive, as this will overshadow the sporting performances. Our aim is to strike a fine balance whereby Para-athletes can raise their views in a constructive way rather than use the Games as a platform to spread hate.”
Current IPC Rules for the Paralympics allow for athletes to express their views when speaking to the media or using social media but are not currently allowed to protest on the field of play. The focus groups hope to educate athletes on the current rules and what is allowed during the Paralympics, whilst also hoping to gather the ideas of athletes on how they wish to make their voices heard during the Games.
IPC President, Andrew Parsons, said “The whole IPC Governing Board is looking forward to hear what the Para-athlete community has to say during these focus groups. We want to listen and learn before working with the IPC Athletes' Council to shape what appropriate changes may be needed for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.” The IPC action follows a similar move by the Olympic Committee after it has come under increasing pressure to relax Rule 50 which states “No kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas."
You can read the IPC statement here.