Athleten Deutschland calls for Rule 50 to be changed.
Berlin, October 7th, 2020. Athletes should be able to take a stand for the values of a free and
democratic society at any time. For Athleten Deutschland the far-reaching and general
restriction of freedom of expression in the context of sporting competitions is therefore no
longer acceptable. A change of Rule 50.2 of the Olympic Charter is imperative. This is the
core of a detailed position that a group of athletes under the leadership of Athleten
Deutschland created in the last few weeks.
"Having carefully considered the subject matter - freedom of expression in general, the
values of sporting federations and the role of the athletes - we agreed that the existing
restrictions on freedom of expression imposed by Rule 50.2 of the Olympic Charter are grossly
overreaching. They are in clear contradiction to the proclaimed values of sporting federations
and are neither based on legal requirements nor on relevant internationally recognized
principles. We therefore call for a revision of the rule," says Marie-Catherine Arnold, member
of the German Olympic rowing team and a participant of the working group.
A revised implementation framework for Rule 50 would have to include, sufficiently
specified, least-intrusive and duly justified restrictions on the expression of opinion by
athletes. Such restrictions could include intentionally untruthful statements, the violation of
the rights of others, hate speech or explicit support for political parties or groups. The
current blanket ban cannot be justified by the internal declaration of "political neutrality".
"From the many conversations with the athletes it emerged that no one wants extremist
statements to appear or conflicts to be ignited on the sporting stage," says Johannes Herber,
CEO of Athleten Deutschland. "At the same time, there was a wide agreement that the
promotion of human rights and the positive effects of freedom of expression should outweigh
the fear of potential conflicts. We cannot deny those who face oppression the right to fight
against it. On the contrary, we should stand by their side".
In addition to an appropriate specification of Rule 50.2 of the Olympic Charter, Athleten
Deutschland outlines further measures in its position. These include, in addition to an
explicit and coherent commitment to human rights in the Olympic Charter and in the DOSB
Statutes, the accompanying introduction of a clearly defined sanctioning practice for
breaches and violations. A fair trial conducted by an independent body should be granted to
athletes suspected of having breached the limits of freedom of expression.
This position has been shared with the German Olympic Sports Confederation (DOSB) in an
effort to initiate the dialogue on this vital issue. "We hope for an exchange with the DOSB in
due time. It would be a strong signal for German sport, but also internationally, if athletes
and federations could find a common position on this important and complex issue," added
Athleten Deutschland has also submitted its position to the IOC Athletes' Commission and looks forward to an early exchange on this basis.Your best source of news about the Olympics is www.aroundtherings.com, for subscribers only