This issue brief discusses the debate surrounding Rule 50 of the Olympic Charter and athletes’ right to protest emphasizing the current importance of the matter concerning the recently concluded Tokyo 2021 Games. First, it discusses those who argue for the rule such as the president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the IOC itself, and athletes such as Feyisa Lilesa, Gwen Berry, and Race Imboden. Next, the brief turns to the cases against Rule 50 with an examination of scholarship on the matter as well as two case studies of Lilesa, and Berry/Imboden. These case studies examine three instances of protest over two different IOC sanctioned events. The issue brief then pivots to an examination of the idea of athletes’ protest from a communications perspective with a look into nonverbal demonstration. Finally, the paper provides a possible explanation for the Olympics’ long-standing commitment to Rule 50 through the intersection of Coakley’s Great Sport Myth and the Myth of Sport’s Autonomy.

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