The United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) said athletes competing at trials for the Olympic Games will be free to raise their first or kneel during the national anthem.
In a new policy directive laying out the rules for permitted protests by US athletes, the USOPC said competitors could use one of a range of gestures to demonstrate for racial and social justice.
Protests allowed included kneeling on the medal podium or during the US national anthem, raising a fist at the podium or start line, and wearing a hat or face mask with phrases such as “Black Lives Matter”, “Trans Lives Matter” or words like “equality” or “justice”.
The new USOPC policy is a striking departure from previous rules, which strictly forbid any kind of protests by athletes.
US Olympic chiefs stressed the new guidelines only applied to upcoming Olympic trials events.
Separate rules about protests permitted at this year’s Tokyo Olympics would be released once the International Olympic Committee and International Paralympic Committee have formulated policies allowed at the games.
The USOPC revised its policies in the wake of protests which swept across the United States last year following the death of African American man George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis.