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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

Oct 26, 2021 - Sports

Kansas City to build 1st stadium specifically for National Women's Soccer League

Photo courtesy of Kansas City NWSL

The owners of Kansas City's National Women's Soccer League team on Tuesday announced plans to construct a $70 million, 11,000-seat stadium.

Why it matters: The stadium, set to open in 2024, appears to be the first top-division soccer stadium constructed for a women's team, the Wall Street Journal notes.

Biden says he'll make Supreme Court pick by end of February

President Biden speaks on the retirement of Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer in the Roosevelt Room of the White House. Photo: Yuri Gripas/Abaca/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden on Thursday said he will announce the nominee for Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer's replacement by the end of February.

Driving the news: Biden also affirmed that he will nominate a Black woman to replace Breyer, saying "it's long overdue."

Stephen Breyer formally announces retirement from Supreme Court

Photo: Andrew Harnik/AP

Justice Stephen Breyer on Thursday sent a letter to President Biden formally announcing his retirement from the Supreme Court.

State of play: Breyer said his retirement will take effect when the court "rises for the summer recess (typically late June or early July) assuming that by then my successor has been nominated and confirmed."