Jul 21, 2021 - Sports

Olympic soccer players take a knee against racism

Picture of soccer female players taking a knee in the Olympics
Players take the knee ahead of an opening round women's football match between the U.S. and Sweden at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Photo: Noriko Hayashi/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The U.S. and Swedish women's soccer teams took a knee ahead of their match Wednesday to protest racism and discrimination.

The big picture: The International Olympic Committee issued new guidelines allowing athletes to "express their views" more freely than in the past. The organization relaxed its protest rules in the wake of 2020's global racial reckoning, Axios' Jeff Tracy reports.

State of play: Prior to the U.S.-Sweden game, the British female soccer team took a knee shortly after referees blew their whistle to indicate the start of the game. Their Chilean opponents quickly reciprocated the gesture, per AP.

  • During the final women's soccer game of the day, the Australian team posed with an Indigenous flag and linked arms before kickoff while their New Zealand counterparts took a knee.

Driving the news: The soccer players were the first athletes to use the Olympic platform to protest, a move which "is expected to be the first of many political statements by Olympic athletes," Axios' Ina Fried writes.

What they're saying: "We are delighted that the IOC has made room for athletes to use their voices for good at the Olympic Games and are proud of our athletes for making a global stand for greater racial equality," said Rob Waddell, the New Zealand Olympic Committee's chef de mission for the Tokyo Games.

Go deeper