Rule 50 Explained

What is Rule 50?

Rule 50 of the Olympic Charter provides a framework to protect the neutrality of sport and the Olympic Games. In addition to prohibiting commercial installations and advertising signs, it states that: “No kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas”.

Why does the rule exist and how does it help athletes?

The IOC and the IOC Athletes’ Commission are fully supportive of freedom of expression, and this is also a principle included in the Athletes’ Rights and Responsibilities Declaration. At the same time, the IOC wants to respect other athletes on the field of play and athletes celebrating their special moment on the podium.

Rule 50 is in place to keep the field of play, the Olympic Village and the podium neutral and free from any form of political, religious or ethnic demonstrations. We believe the focus at the Olympic Games must remain on athletes’ performances, sport and the international unity and harmony that the Olympic Movement seeks to advance.

When an individual makes their grievances, however legitimate, more important than the feelings of their competitors and the competition itself, the unity and harmony as well as the celebration of sport and human accomplishment are diminished. The aim of Rule 50 is that each and every athlete can enjoy the experience of the Olympic Games without any divisive disruption.

What opportunities are there for me to express my views at the Olympic Games?

There are already multiple opportunities at Games time for athletes to fully and openly express their views, including in official press conferences, through social and traditional media, and at mixed zones in competition venues. In non-Olympic venues, there are no restrictions.

The expression of views in these spaces should still be respectful and in line with the Olympic values and rules.

Where are protests and demonstrations not permitted during the Olympic Games?

Rule 50 intends to preserve the field of play and podium from any protest, to respect our fellow athletes and their special “moment” and allow them to focus on their performance. Examples of what would constitute a protest include displaying any political messaging, including signs or armbands; gestures of a political nature, like a hand gesture or kneeling; and refusal to follow the Ceremonies protocol.

Why were the Rule 50 Guidelines produced and how can they help me?

Although Rule 50 of the Olympic Charter has been providing a framework to protect the neutrality of sport and the Olympic Games for many years, it was felt that there was a need to provide clear guidelines to athletes as to when and where you can express their views during the Games.

In 2019, the IOC AC consulted with the global athlete community while drafting the Rule 50 Guidelines, which were published earlier this year. The guidelines are intended to provide clarity on the existing opportunities you have to express your views at the Olympic Games, and where is not appropriate. 

We encourage you to read the Guidelines and if you have any feedback or questions for the IOC Athletes’ Commission about Rule 50, feel free to contact us at athlete365@olympic.org.