Megan Rapinoe has criticised the International Olympic Committee for their clampdown on athletes protesting at the forthcoming 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
Speaking to TSN's Mike Beauvais, the United States women's national soccer team superstar said the IOC's ruling is "backwards," and the committee have misplaced fears:
"It shows me that they're scared about the wrong things and that they're not actually focusing on, or even thinking about or committed to, protecting the individual's rights or protecting the rights of people who are underrepresented or minorities or looking at all to hold, not only different Olympic committees, but just countries to the highest standard that they're then going to hold all of the athletes to."
Rapinoe, who began kneeling during the national anthem in solidarity with NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick in 2016, had recently spoken out about the new guidelines which will be enforced when the competition begins on July 24.
The 34-year-old let her opinion on the IOC's stance be known via an Instagram post (h/t The Athletic's Meg Linehan):
The Olympic Charter's Rule 50 forbids athletes from making a protest on the field of play, in the Olympic village, at medal ceremonies and during the opening and closing ceremonies. However, this doesn't appear to ban individuals from making any form of comment using other mediums. Social media isn't included in the rule.
Activism has occurred at previous Olympics, with athletes taking a stand against a host of social and political issues.
One of the most famous instances occurred when United States sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos famously raised their fists in unison on the 200-metre sprint podium in 1968 in Mexico, using their Olympic platform to protest against human rights violations in the USA and globally.
The IOC banned both athletes as a result of their actions, and it's possible this could be the punishment if individuals attempt a similar protest in Japan.