US and Team GB women’s football teams take the knee before their opening Olympic Games matches after IOC relaxed rules on political gestures
The US and Team GB women’s football teams were among those to take the knee ahead of their opening matches in the Olympics today.
All 22 players took part in the gesture prior to kick-off between four-time Olympic champions the US and Sweden in Tokyo, an hour after Team GB and Chile did likewise in Sapporo.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) recently relaxed the rules for protests at the Games, softening a long-standing ban on political protests at the global sporting event.
Lucy Bronze of Team GB takes a knee in support of the Black Lives Matter movement prior to their opening game against Chile in the Olympics
Alex Morgan of the US and Hanna Glas of Sweden take part in the gesture at the start of their clash in Tokyo
Athletes will now be allowed to take a knee before play begins to highlight racial injustice, speak to the media and post online about their views, or wear clothing with a protest slogan at a press conference.
But political statements during events, victory ceremonies and at the Olympic Village are still off the cards, the IOC said.
The New Zealand Olympic Committee’s chef de mission said the team would also take a knee before their game later Wednesday in Tokyo against Australia.
All 22 players took part in the gesture prior to kick-off between four-time Olympic champions the US and Sweden in Tokyo
Taking the knee, which has become widely used in the Premier League since the Black Lives Matter protests last year, proved controversial in the Euro 2020 tournament with some fans booing the gesture.
But the women’s players at the Olympics did not have to contend with that issue as they were playing in front of empty stadiums.
Britain won the Group E opener in Sapporo 2-0, with Manchester City striker Ellen White scoring twice and having a goal disallowed by VAR for offside.
The matches are being played in front of empty stadiums due to the ongoing Covid situation in Japan
Hege Riise’s side are bidding to become the first British team to win an Olympic football medal.
Lauren Hemp’s header put the ball in front of Ellen White for a close-in goal in the 18th minute. White’s second goal was a volley to the far post in the 75th.
Chile, ranked No. 37 in the world, was making its Olympic debut. Known as La Roja, Chile qualified for Tokyo by beating Cameroon 2-1 in an intercontinental playoff.
Meanwhile Sweden pulled off a shock result, beating favourites the US by 3-0.