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Sebastian Coe, president of World Athletics and an International Olympic Committee member, supports athletes who protest during national anthems and on the Olympic podium.
On Thursday, Coe told The Scotsman, “Athletes are a part of the world and they want to reflect the world they live in. For me, that part is perfectly acceptable as long as it is done with respect – complete respect – for other competitors, which I think most athletes properly understand.”
During a tour of the Tokyo Olympic Stadium, he commented that athletes should have the right to quietly protest.
He has been vocal in support of the increase in calls this year for a change to Rule 50 of the Olympic Charter, which bans any form political protest during the Games.
In March, the IOC and the Japanese government decided to postpone the Games until 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic. It is still branded as 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
Coe, who is meeting Tokyo 2020 and local government officials later on Thursday, said his team was confident that the Games can be held safely next year.
World Athletics has also sent a team to the northern Japanese city of Sapporo, which will host the marathon and race walking events, to aid organisers in developing COVID-19 precautions.