Britain’s top sports stars have been urged to make their feelings known on issues of racism and inclusivity amid the prospect of protests at next year’s delayed Tokyo Olympics.

The International Olympic Committee showed signs of stepping back from its usual blanket ban on what it calls “political, religious or racial propaganda” by vowing to open up a dialogue with athletes.

And members of the British Olympic Association’s Athletes’ Commission have called on potential Tokyo-bound athletes to tell them their concerns in a bid to shape the way the IOC will address the issues in Japan.

In an open letter to athletes, Commission chairman Ben Hawes wrote: “We are pleased the IOC has moved to ‘condemn racism in the strongest terms’ and has requested its IOC Athletes’ Commission to open dialogue with the world’s athletes to explore ways in which we can best express our support for the principles of the Olympic Charter.

“With the full support of the leadership of the BOA we wish to represent the views of British Olympic athletes to the IOC’s Athletes’ Commission and other forums.

“To help inform and shape our views on the important and timely debate about race and sport we will proactively work with other athlete bodies in the coming weeks to ensure we have a representative position on the way to drive change.

Ben Hawes represented Great Britain at three Olympic Games
Ben Hawes represented Great Britain at three Olympic Games (PA Wire)

“We ask you as athletes to reach out to us, either directly or through your sport’s athlete representative, to ensure we are hearing your voices.”

The unprecedented displays of solidarity with the Black Lives Matter campaign in the wake of the death of George Floyd in Minnesota raised questions over how the IOC would handle prospective displays of support in Tokyo.

Despite initially inferring its strict rules would continue to be enforced, there are now hopes a consensus can be reached which will allow athletes to express their feelings without fearing censure.


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