If American athletes plan to use their Olympic stage to take a knee or raise a fist, U.S. track and field trials figure to be the first place to see what sort of reaction they’ll get.
The majority of America’s Black Summer Olympians come from track and field, which puts the medals stand in Eugene under the spotlight when the action starts Friday. In a major shift in policy, the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee resolved to not sanction athletes who use their platform for social demonstrations.
“I’m happy in the sense that the United States has moved enough today that they will allow their athletes to make a statement on the victory stand as far as kneeling and putting the fist in the sky,” said John Carlos, who along with Tommie Smith, raised his fist on the medals stand at the 1968 Olympics.
“But the question I have is, when an athlete goes beyond the United States and steps into the realms of the international Olympic community, how supportive is the United States going to be to those athletes?” Carlos said.