ADAM GEMILI has warned Olympic chiefs “all hell would break loose” if they ban athletes from protesting in Tokyo.
Olympians are not allowed to take a knee in support of the Black Lives Matter movement during the Games – though IOC sanctions for offenders are still to be confirmed.
Team GB sprinter Gemili, who is of Moroccan-Iranian heritage, says he would consider demonstrating on the podium if he wins a medal in Japan.
Gemili, 27, said: “This is what I don’t understand. The IOC are so quick to use Tommie Smith, the picture of him fist raised. But then they are saying: ‘Actually, no-one is allowed to do that.’
“It doesn’t make sense to me. I don’t think you can ban an athlete for protesting. And if they do all hell would break loose and it could go south and sour very quickly.
“They will be very naïve to even try to do that.
“The Olympics isn’t a place to be political, it’s a place for sport and to bring the whole world together but the whole BLM movement is more than political.
“It’s about being a good human and equal rights for everyone is not something which should be turned away so easily like they’re doing.
“I find it quite astounding they are still keeping the same stance.
“It’s ridiculous really. I find it astonishing that they can be okay with the stance they’re taking.
“I’d be happy to take a knee if I was successful at the Olympics and I had that opportunity. I’d definitely protest.
“Because I think it’s a place where you should be allowed to express your opinion.
“I’d be very hypocritical if I’ve been talking all this talk and I wouldn’t do that myself.
“Maybe they should recognise it beforehand? Before the Games even start.
“The fact the IOC is telling them no, you can’t do it, is only going to make people more angry. For me, if the opportunity came, I wouldn’t shy away from that.”
The continued ban on protest, including during medal ceremonies and competitions, followed a worldwide online survey of more than 3,500 athletes, who felt it was inappropriate for anyone to make a statement.
But Gemili, who is on the BOA athletes’ commission, blasted: “It was very clear that it wasn’t an accurate representation of athletes from all around the world with different colours, races and ethnicities.
I’d be happy to take a knee if I was successful at the Olympics and I had that opportunity. I’d definitely protest.
Adam Gemili, British sprinter
“They tried to say athletes don’t want it but that’s not the picture I’ve got from speaking to athletes. It doesn’t really make much sense.
“As bad as it sounds, athletes have always been at the bottom of the pecking order. We don’t have any power.
“We’re actually the ones that are running and competing and entertaining for the world.”
In his first UK race since August 2019, Gemili will run in Gateshead on Sunday with strong competition from Canadian Andre de Grasse in the men’s 200m.
Source: Athletics - thesun.co.uk