China promise no more Mao Zedong pins after IOC warning

Sports Tokyo 2020

China's Bao Shanju (L) and Zhong Tianshi wore Mao badges on the victory podium. AFP
China’s Bao Shanju (L) and Zhong Tianshi wore Mao badges on the victory podium. AFP

Tokyo, Japan | AFP

China has promised not to let any more gold medallists wear Mao Zedong pins on the Olympic podium after two cyclists were warned for a potential breach of anti-propaganda rules, the International Olympic Committee said on Saturday.

Bao Shanju and Zhong Tianshi, the women’s team sprint track cycling champions, appeared at their medal ceremony Monday wearing a small red pin with a golden profile of the former Chinese leader.

The IOC reviewed the incident, given its rules banning “politics, religious or racial propaganda”, but said it had received assurances from China.

“On China, we have received clarification and the athletes have been warned,” said Christian Klaue, IOC director of corporate communications and public affairs, on Saturday. 

“We have also received assurances that it will not happen again. With this, the IOC considers this case closed,” he told a press conference. 

He did not clarify whether the IOC considered the behaviour had broken its rules.

For the Tokyo Games, the IOC has relaxed rules against political gestures or expressions, such as athletes taking the knee against racism before games.

But such gestures remain banned from the podium.

The IOC initially said it would review the case of American shot put silver medallist Raven Saunders, who raised her arms in an ‘X’ on the podium reportedly in solidarity with “oppressed people”.

But it suspended the review after Saunders revealed the death of her mother.

hih/sah/nr/th

© Agence France-Presse

Tokyo 2020 AFP