A gymnast from Costa Rica seems to have found a way to stretch past the rule prohibiting Olympics athletes from political protests. As CBS News reported, 18-year-old Luciana Alvarado ended her gymnastics floor routine by taking a knee and raising a fist to the sky in a tribute to the Black Lives Matter movement.
Luciana told the Associated Press it was a deliberate gesture to honor the movement following 2020’s mass protests. The gymnast also told the AP she did it to uplift equal rights “Because we’re all the same … and we’re all beautiful and amazing.”
Luciana is the first gymnast from Costa Rica to make the Olympics, according to CBS News. She discussed her ending pose in an interview with live bloggers from the podcast GymCastic, saying that she and a cousin have both incorporated the choreography into their routines, saying she likes to uplift “the importance of everyone treated with respect and dignity and everyone having the same rights because we’re all the same and we’re all beautiful and amazing.”
The International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) Rule 50 prohibits any “demonstration or political, religious, or racial propaganda” on the field of play or awards podiums. While it has been a controversial policy, the IOC decided to keep enforcing it for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, including for kneeling and hand gestures.
But it seems like Luciana might have found a loophole around the restriction. According to USA Today, the fact that she incorporated the shoutout to BLM into an artistic element of her routine could make it difficult for the IOC to crack down on her.
Luciana is just one of several Olympics athletes finding a way to make their voices heard despite efforts to depoliticize the international event. On the first day of the games, as the AP reported, several women’s soccer teams took a knee to protest racism and the Australian team, known as the Matildas, showed support for Indigenous Aboriginal peoples by displaying a flag. According to the country’s National Indigenous TV, three Indigenous women play on Australia’s national team.
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