The issue of Olympic protests carries special resonance in Australia, with track athletes Peter Norman having been part one of the most symbolic protests in Olympic history, when he stood on the podium with Black American sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos in the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City.

Olympic Competition : More than 80% of 496 respondents say protesting on field would 'distract from the performance'.

Melbourne : a vast majority of Australian athletes' believe messages of personal or political protest  should not be delivered in Olympic competition or on the medalists podium, a survey conducted by the country's athletes commission said on Friday.

The survey comes amid growing calls on the International Olympic Committee [IOC] to ease restrictions on protests with other sports organizations allowing athletes to express onfield solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement in a time of global and anti-racism demonstrations following George Floyd's death in police custody in May.

In 1968, Silver medallist Norman wore a badge supporting the ''Olympics Project for Human Rights''  while Smith and Carlos raised black gloved fists and bowed their heads during the US national anthem a potent gesture in the civil rights era.

Rule of the Olympic charter bans any form of political protest during the Games.

The Australian survey was prompted by the IOC Athletes Commission initiative to explore how athletes can ''support principles enshrined in the Olympic Charter''.

In domestic sports competitions, including rugby, soccer and Australian Rules football, Australian players have taken a knee on field in recent months to express Black Lives Matter solidarity.

In the AOC survey, nearly 41% of athletes who responded said the Olympics were ''not a place for athletes to publicly express their views''. Some 40% believed in self-expression ''depending on the circumstances'', and 19% believed in self-expression ''in any circumstances''. [Reuters] 


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