As your British Olympic Association (BOA) Athletes’ Commission, we are unanimous and unequivocal in our rejection of racism and all forms of discrimination. As Olympians, we believe in fairness and equality for all, and see the Olympic Games as one of the greatest demonstrations of humanity, inclusivity and unity.
For this reason, we share our support for the Black Lives Matter campaign, and the wider anti-racism and antidiscrimination movements.
On Thursday, as members of the BOA Athletes’ Commission, we met to discuss the important matter of athletes’ rights to freedom of expression, and expressly Rule 50 of the Olympic Charter, which has rightly been brought to the top of our agenda given the recent Black Lives Matter movement across the world.
We also recognise our Great Britain and Northern Ireland team as one of the most diverse sports teams in our great country. Team GB, as a whole, represents all aspects of our vibrant society, crossing cultures, borders and class divides to provide outwardly visible and positive examples of inclusivity in sport. However, we also know that for some athletes to achieve personal success they still have to overcome significant societal hurdles that others may not.
We are therefore 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, specifically Principle 6, which states: “The enjoyment of the rights and freedoms set forth in this Olympic Charter shall be secured without discrimination of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, sexual orientation, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.”
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. 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.
We will also work with the BOA as an organisation to further understand and help develop their organisational objectives in respect of inclusivity and equality, and further encourage the wider sports sector to become increasingly representative of the athlete communities they serve.
We are more than athletes, and our voices should always be heard.
Ben Hawes – Chair, British Olympic Association Athletes’ Commission.
BOA Athletes’ Commission Members:
Lizzie Simmonds (Vice Chair), Eric Boateng, Aimee Fuller, Adam Gemili, Katherine Grainger, James Rodwell, Joanna Rowsell, Callum Skinner, Liam Tancock, Kristian Thomas, Georgie Twigg, Lizzy Yarnold