''IT is a fundamental principle that sport is neutral.'' : The International Olympic Committee is taking no chances.

Amid an increase in athlete activism and rising political tensions worldwide, the organization has settled on strict - and specific - guidelines for the types of actions, gestures and statements competitors at this summer's Tokyo Olympics will be permitted to make.

No kneeling. No political motivated hand gestures. No political messages on signs or armbands. And absolutely no disruptions of medal ceremonies.

The I.O.C. announced the guidelines last week after a meeting of its athlete commission, where the organisation's challenge was to balance growing demands from athletes to be able to speak out on issues with ensuring the Games pass without diplomatic incidents.

Many of the new guidelines merely codify existing rules.

Rule 50 of the Olympic Charter already bars athletes from staging political protests on the field of play or at medal ceremonies. But until now, the guidelines were ambiguous about what constituted a  political display.

''We needed clarity, and they wanted clarity on the rules,'' said Kirsty Conventry. the chairwoman of the I.O.C. Athletes' Commission, which oversaw the creation of the  three-page document explaining what is not permitted.

''The majority of the athletes feel it is very important that we respect each other as athletes.''

At the same time, the guidelines also sought to clarify the places where athletes were free to express themselves. Those include interviews and and news conferences, including those conducted on the grounds of the Games, and through digital and traditional media outlets and ''on other platforms'' -presumably a reference to social media sites like Twitter and Instagram.

Those forums often serve as a ready microphone for athletes across the sporting spectrum.

Potential violations of the new guidelines, the I.O.C. said, would be evaluated by an athlete's    national Olympic committee, the international federation for the sports involved at the I.O.C. Disciplinary action will be taken on case-by-case basis ''as necessary,'' the I.O.C. said.

The World Students Society thanks author, Tariq Panja.


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