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Rule 50 of the Olympic Charter Analyzed with Olympic Historian Bill Mallon Updated: 2021-07-23 17:14:26 KST

The International Olympic Committee is strictly against any form of propaganda or political statements made during the Games and hence they will be enforcing Rule 50 of their Olympic Charter at Tokyo 2020.
Rule 50 of the Olympic Charter has been in practice for years by the IOC to ensure that no kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is displayed in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas.
Rule 50 of the Olympic Charter, it's the topic of our News In-depth tonight.
Joining us live from the Tokyo Olympic Games is Bill Mallon. Bill is an Olympic historian and former president of the International Society of Olympic Historians.
Bill, thank you for joining us.

First of all, tell us about the objective of this rule.

Several weeks leading up to the Games, Seoul's foreign affairs ministry summoned a senior Japanese diplomat to protest a map published on the Tokyo Olympic Games website; its torch relay map includes Korea's easternmost Dokdo Island - referred by the Japanese as Takeshima and internationally known as the Liancourt Rocks. Although they are historically and geographically Korean territory and currently controlled by South Korea, these islets are under territorial dispute.
Despite South Korea's complaint to the IOC, the IOC did not ask the Tokyo organizers to remove the islets from their map.
Is this not subject to the Rule 50 of the Olympic Charter?

We saw a similar, if not an exactly the same situation - just in reverse - back in 2017 when Japan demanded that South Korea remove the disputed islets from the Korean Peninsula flag of the 2018 Winter Olympics held in South Korea’s PyeongChang. Back then, the IOC had South Korea remove the islets from the map. What was the IOC's reasoning back then?

Now, fastforward to Tokyo 2020 this year, South Korea's Olympic committee this past weekend removed banners that hung at the balconies of South Korean athletes' rooms which collectively spelled out a message that read: "I still have the support of 50 million Korean people."
South Korea's Olympic Committee said it was told by the IOC this phrase borrowed from the famous words of 16th-century Korean naval admiral Yi Sun-sin, who according to historical lore told King of Korea's Joseon Kingdom then "I still have 12 battleships left" before pulling off a crucial victory against a larger Japanese fleet during the 1592-1598 Japanese invasions of Korea - was ruled provocative and against Rule 50 of the Olympic Charter.
Would you agree with this?

South Korea's Olympic committee said it agreed to remove the banners after the IOC promised to also apply the same rules to the rising sun flags and ban them at all Olympic venues. This flag, portraying a red sun with 16 rays extending outward, is resented by many people in South Korea and other parts of Asia who see it as a symbol of Japan’s wartime past.
Back in 2019, South Korea had first formally asked the IOC to ban the rising sun flag at the Olympics, comparing it to the Nazi swastika, but was rejected by Tokyo's organizing committee as they argued it was widely used in Japan and was not considered a political statement.
What are the chances that we will not see the rising sun flag at the Games this year?

Is there a clear cut standard that decides what is a political statement and what isn't. In other words, which body of the IOC gets to decide what is a violation of Rule 50 of the Olympic Charter and based on what?

Bill Mallon, Olympic historian and former President of the International Society of Olympic Historians many thanks for your insights this evening. We appreciate it.

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