Sanya Richards-Ross 'Outraged' by IOC Banning Protests at Tokyo Olympics

Blake SchusterContributor IApril 22, 2021

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 11: Sanya Richards-Ross of USA takes off on the final leg to anchor the USA 4x400m Women's relay team to victory during the 2012 London Olympics at The Olympic Stadium on August 11, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Four-time Olympic Gold medal-winning track star Sanya Richards-Ross told TMZ Sports she's "outraged" over the International Olympic Committee's decision to ban protests at the 2020 Games in Tokyo this summer. 

"I understand that people think of sports as a place to escape. They want to get away from the politics and all of the things happening in life," Richards-Ross said. "...But the truth is, minorities, black people, marginalized people don't get to escape their reality. They don't get to escape their Blackness."

The IOC has always frowned upon protests at the global games but recently announced it would begin upholding the ban on protests in Olympic venues. The committee said it will later release a “proportionate range of sanctions" for those who disobey the directive. 

"I think that the athletes that feel compelled will do it regardless," Richards-Ross told TMZ. "Good luck with people paying fines for being able to express themselves."

Unlike the IOC, the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee said it will not discipline athletes who take a knee or partake in peaceful protest at the Olympic trials. 

In stating its position, the IOC said the recommendation is to "preserve the podium, field of play and official ceremonies". 

Richards-Ross believes that's not the case at all. 

The sprinter told TMZ it adds to the competition when people are able to express what they are passionate about and how they are feeling. That the IOC feels any sort of protest would be a distraction, Richards-Ross said, is an unfortunate decision.