NZ women’s football team to take the knee at Tokyo Games opener

People gather near the Olympic Rings to take pictures of the Blue Impulse aerobatic demonstration team of Japan Air Self-Defence Force flying over the Olympic Stadium, the main venue for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, during a rehearsal in Tokyo July 21, 2021. — AFP pic
People gather near the Olympic Rings to take pictures of the Blue Impulse aerobatic demonstration team of Japan Air Self-Defence Force flying over the Olympic Stadium, the main venue for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, during a rehearsal in Tokyo July 21, 2021. — AFP pic

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TOKYO, July 21 — New Zealand’s women’s football team said they will take the knee before their opening match of the Tokyo Olympics against Australia today at the Tokyo Stadium to raise awareness about greater racial equality in sport.

The act of taking the knee is a form of protest first made by American football quarterback Colin Kaepernick and followed by the Black Lives Matter movement.

The International Olympic Committee has relaxed its Rule 50, which had previously forbidden athletes from any protests but now allows them to make gestures on the field, provided they do so without disruption and with respect for fellow competitors.

“We are delighted that the IOC has made room for athletes to use their voices for good at the Olympic Games and are proud of our athletes for making a global stand for greater racial equality,” Rob Waddell, New Zealand’s Chef de Mission in Tokyo, said in a statement.

“We fully support athlete advocacy where the New Zealand Team values are upheld.”

Britain’s women’s football coach Hege Riise also said last week that her players will take the knee before matches at the Tokyo Games to raise awareness about racism and all forms of discrimination. — Reuters

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