18-year-old gymnast Costa Rican gymnast, Luciana Alvarado succeeded in finding a loophole around the IOC political protest policy by ending her floor exercise routine at the Tokyo Olympics with a Black Lives Matter tribute.
The simple gesture sent a message to the world that last summer’s reckoning on racial justice across the world is not over until concrete changes are made to dismantle racism on a global scale. She took a risk, but by incorporating the BLM salute as an artistic element in her floor routine, the IOC might not be able to enforce any sort of penalty against her.
Alvarado confirmed to the media afterwards that the routine was choreographed to honour the Black Lives Matter movement and to highlight the importance of achieving equality for all people.
“Because we’re all the same,” “We’re all beautiful and amazing.” She said.
The IOC on July 23, relaxed its Rule 50, which forbids athletes from any form of protest at the Games that allow athletes to make gestures on the field of play provided they do so without disruption and with respect for fellow competitors and as long as it is not on the podium during the medal ceremony.
Any statement or protest, however, requires the approval of a working group that includes among others the IOC and the international federation of the sport in question.
The IOC has cracked down on any protests or perceived political messages at the Olympic Games in the past.
Tommie Lee Smith and John Carlos were expelled from the 1968 Games for raising their fists on the medal podium.
As the first gymnast from Costa Rica to ever qualify to the Olympics,Luciana Alvarado made history before her history making Black Lives Matter movement salute on the unique platform her Olympic appearance provided to get her point across.