Costa Rican gymnast Luciana Alvarado seemingly circumvented International Olympic Committee rules Sunday by ending her floor routine with a tribute to the Black Lives Matter movement.
The 18-year-old ended her floor routine in the Olympic qualifying round on one knee, her head back and her right fist in the air, The Associated Press reported.
She said she hoped the move would bring the importance of equal rights to the global stage.
“Because we’re all the same,” Alvarado said, “and we’re all beautiful and amazing.”
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“My cousin and I, we both do it in our routines,” Alvarado said, GymCastic reported.
“And I feel like if you do something that brings everyone together, you know, and you see that here, like, ‘Yes, you’re one of mine, you understand things,’ the importance of everyone treated with respect and dignity and everyone having the same rights because we’re all the same and we’re all beautiful and amazing so I think that’s why I love to have it in my routine and I love that my little cousin does it on her routine too.”
The IOC’s Rule 50 largely bans protests at the Olympics, though Olympic history has been dotted with them ever since the 1968 protests of Americans Tommie Smith and John Carlos at the Mexico City Games.
The U.S. Olympic Committee wandered away from that standard and allowed protests during the U.S. Olympic trials.
The committee was asked not to punish demonstrating athletes in a letter signed by Smith and Carlos, among others, sent to the IOC prior to this year’s games.
“While we appreciate the strides the IOC/IPC made in promoting athlete expression, we do not believe the changes made reflect a commitment to freedom of expression as a fundamental human right nor to racial and social justice in global sport,” the letter read.
The signatories asked the IOC to “refrain from imposing sanctions on athletes protesting and demonstrating in accordance with internationally-recognized human rights frameworks” in any Olympic sites and on the podium.
They also asked for a further review of Rule 50 “to align the rule with internationally-recognized human rights frameworks.”
It is unlikely Alvarado will be punished for circumventing the rules because the move was incorporated into her routine.
Alvarado is the first gymnast from Costa Rica to ever qualify for the Olympics. Her routine scored a 12.166 on the floor, and she did not qualify for the finals.
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