Much has been said about the International Olympic Committee’s decision to ban athletes from kneeling or protesting during the Tokyo Olympics. But despite Rule 50 of the Olympic Charter explicitly stating that “no kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas,” Costa Rican gymnast Luciana Alvarado still found a way to deliver a powerful statement to the entire world.
NBC News reports that after completing her floor routine, Alvarado, the first gymnast from Costa Rica to qualify for the Olympics, took a knee, put her left hand behind her back, and raised her right fist into the air.
NBC Olympics lauded the demonstration as “the first of its kind on an international stage in elite gymnastics,” and while the 18-year-old’s 12.166 score wasn’t enough to push her forward to the finals, she took tremendous pride in using her platform to “highlight the importance of equal rights on a global stage and champion treating all with respect and dignity,” as she told the Associated Press.
“We’re all the same,” she said. “We’re all beautiful and amazing.”
For those wondering if Alvarado’s Black Lives Matter tribute will incite the wrath of the IOC, it’s unlikely since she was clever enough to incorporate her powerful gesture into her routine. And considering the wave of anti-Black rulings handed down by Olympic governing bodies prior to the Olympics, as well as the lengths that many feel that the Olympics have gone to make Black athletes feel unwelcome in Tokyo, this is exactly the type of energy we need more of.
“I think it was a beautiful sentiment because it just isn’t our fight here,” Black News Channel anchor Shannon LaNier said. “This is a global issue that we’re facing. I hope more people understand that and see the need for that unification and support.”
I couldn’t agree more.