The Olympics recently warned athletes against any and all political messaging during the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics. Rapinoe wasn't having any of it.
Recently, the International Olympics Committee banned protesting while on the field of play. This rule will be in effect in the Olympic Village and during medal and other official ceremonies at the upcoming 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo. All athletes, regardless of nationality, sport, and gender, were warned against displaying "any political messaging" during the 2020 Summer Games. However, the policy did not sit well with many athletes, particularly the United States women's national soccer team midfielder Megan Rapinoe, according to sports news outlet Bleacher Report. Rapinoe has been making the headlines in the past year for her headstrong attitude towards empowerment and equity. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that she would stand up for her and her fellow athletes' right to freedom of expression.
Rapino has called herself a "walking protest." For instance, at a friendly match against Thailand in 2016, the midfielder kneeled during the national anthem in order to protest racial injustice. Further to this, she has called out United States President Donald Trump on various occasions, labeling him "sexist," "misogynistic," "small-minded," "racist" and "not a good person." She has also "become a staunch advocate for LGBTQ rights and pay equity, partnering with nonprofits and sitting at roundtables with Hillary Clinton," Henry Bushnell of Yahoo! Sports reports. Needless to say, Rapinoe is quite the icon of dissent.
Therefore, when the Olympics released their archaic rule, she was one of many individuals to call the sporting organization out for their explicit complicity in oppression. Nancy Armour of USA Today, for instance, called the rule the "height of hypocrisy." As the line between politics and sports becomes blurs day by day, she wrote, "IOC leaders, President Thomas Bach, in particular, have crossed that supposed bright line separating the Olympics from politics so often that it's no longer visible." Joining Armour in criticizing the policy, Rapinoe took to Instagram to post a powerful graphic depicting dissent. The words "kneeling," "hand gestures," and "signs" were present on the graphic, but were all scratched out in red. Below the words, the ever-famous Olympics logo was displayed, with fists going through the iconic colorful rings. It read, "Athletes are warned against 'any political messaging' at the Toko Olympics."
Megan Rapinoe responds to the IOC banning protests at the Olympics: “We will not be silenced” pic.twitter.com/69PljKC8u5— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) January 10, 2020
Below this, Rapinoe wrote, "So much being done about the protests. So little being done about what we are protesting about. We will not be silenced." The move was, without a doubt, bold and daring. While some felt politics should be left out of international sports altogether, others took the footballer's side. One individual asked sarcastically on Twitter, "Lol, 'No political messaging.' Hmm, are national anthems political at all?" While Rapinoe is yet to confirm if she has something planned for the big day, it is heartening to see a sports legend of her stature stand up for the right thing instead of worrying about their place in the Olympics.