USA Gymnastics has announced an Athlete Bill of Rights and a protest policy for national team members which will allow them to protest without punishment.
The Athlete Bill of Rights covers eight points and was developed as a collaborative effort between USA Gymnastics and members of the organisations Athlete’s Council in order to ensure that athletes effectively had their opinion considered. The Bill covers a range of points including the right to participate in Gymnastics, be treated with dignity and respect and to have their health and safety protected.
Point 7 of the Bill allows athletes to voice their opinion that affects the gymnastics community without being punished. USA Gymnastics protest policy reinforces point 7 as it reads “In a number of forums (e.g., on social media, at press conferences, etc.), you also have a platform to use your voice in other ways – whether that is to inspire the next generation of gymnasts, provide feedback on your experiences, share personal anecdotes, or advocate for causes you believe in. Your choice to do so – including through peaceful protest at a USA Gymnastics’ event – will not impact selections, team participation, or results, to the extent it is under USA Gymnastics’ control (i.e., the Olympic Games are not under USAG’s control), so long as you are complying with the USA Gymnastics’ policies, including the Code of Ethical Conduct.”
The move provides athletes with the support to express themselves freely in peaceful protest whilst having the peace of mind that they will not suffer any negative consequences as a result. Athlete protests have been a frequent topic of discussion this year ahead of the Tokyo Olympics with IOC Article 50 prohibiting athletes from protesting at the Games.