British Olympic team players kneel before their game against Chile
--- / dpa
Before the opening game of the female soccer players' Olympic tournament, the teams from Great Britain and Chile kneeled down to signal against racism.
The team of referees also took part in the action in Sapporo on Wednesday.
"We want to show everyone that this is something serious," the British defender Demi Stokes had announced before the game.
The Chilean players got on their knees a little later.
Chile's midfielder Karen Araya told the AP news agency that they were surprised by the sign from their opponents, but then they joined in.
Even before the duel between world champions USA and third place in the World Cup, Sweden (0: 3), all players got on their knees to protest.
"It is allowed, it is not a violation of rule 50," said IOC President Thomas Bach on Wednesday in Tokyo, referring to the guidelines of the International Olympic Committee.
Just a few days ago, the IOC lifted the long-standing ban on athlete protests at the Olympic Games and amended rule 50 of the Olympic Charter.
However, the relaxation only applies in the competition venues and not for the medal ceremonies.
In addition, the umbrella associations of the individual sports were left to make the final decision on whether to allow protests.
Allowed but not welcome?
The world football association had agreed to this.
"Fifa believes in freedom of speech and expression, and that applies to players, coaches, officials and any other person or organization involved in Fifa's activities," it said in a recent statement.
The British Guardian reported on Wednesday afternoon, however, that none of the pictures of the kneeling players were shown on the social media channels of the Olympic Games or the IOC.
According to the AP, the action was also not mentioned on the official website of the Olympic Games.
In the television broadcasts, however, the kneeling players could be seen.
According to information from the Guardian, the IOC, together with the Olympic organizers, is said to have prohibited their social media teams from displaying such images on the channels.
The newspaper cites an informant.
Accordingly, the instruction is said to have been delivered on Tuesday evening local time, with an explicit reference to the match between Great Britain and Chile.
In response to a query from the Guardian, the IOC simply said: "The signal is broadcast to all broadcasters around the world and reaches a huge television audience" ("the signal is distributed to all the broadcasters around the world with a huge TV audience").
ngo / dpa / AP