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OCA to enforce ‘no-protest’ rule

HANGZHOU, China — The Olympic Council of Asia will not tolerate political or religious protests when China hosts the 19th Asian Games from 23 September to 8 October here.

OCA director general Vinod Kumar Tiwari informed participating National Olympic Committees to discourage their respective athletes from staging any kind of protests in the Games, especially during the medal ceremony.

Athletes have been using the medal ceremony to express their sentiments on political, social or religious issues.

The most iconic was during the Mexico Olympics in 1968 when African-American runners Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised their black-gloved fists while singing the national anthem of the United States.

Tiwari said the Asian Games should be free from any political or religious pressure and those who stage protests will be removed from the Athletes Village.

“We will not allow any protest, religious or political,” Tiwari said during the chiefs of mission meeting.

“If there is any form of protest we will withdraw the accreditation.”

The OCA executive added that banners or slogans that promote political, racial, religious or commercial content and those that violate the Chinese law and OCA constitution will not be allowed in the medal ceremony.

Instead, athletes will be allowed to carry only the national flag of their respective countries or regions.

“Please ensure that your athletes are aware of this,” Tiwari said.

Prior to the OCA memo, Chinese athletes were also instructed to “raise your political awareness” during their first ever hosting of the Asian Games since 2010.

They were also reminded to “bring glory to the country, and fully demonstrate the immense power of China’s modern sports practice.”

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