Dina: ‘I see protesting and expressing yourself as a fundamental human right’ (Image: AFP via Getty Images)
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Team GB star Dina Asher-Smith has warned Olympic chiefs against trying to stifle athlete protest.
The troubled Tokyo Games finally start today, a year late, with competitors told that podium protests will not be tolerated.
But Asher-Smith, poster girl of the 375-strong British team, cautioned: “I see protesting and expressing yourself as a fundamental human right.”
British sprinter Adam Gemili says he will defy the dictat if he wins a medal and world champion sprinter Noah Lyles could do likewise after he raised a gloved fist in support of Black Lives Matter before his final at the US trials.
Asher-Smith has been inspired by the social activism of Marcus Rashford and his England football team mates – praising their “good sense of moral leadership for our nation”.
England footballers Marcus Rashford and Jordan Henderson
And she warned: “If people stand up and say something, we're not saying it for a joke. It's because we're standing up against injustice.”
Ahead of today’s lighting of the Olympic torch, Britain’s fastest woman challenged Games’ organisers.
She asked: “If you were to penalise someone for standing up against racial inequality how on earth would that go, how on earth are you going to enforce that?
England stars took the knee throughout Euro 2020
(Image: The FA via Getty Images)
“Would you revoke someone's medal for saying racism is wrong? How would that look, particularly when people feel so strongly about that right now?
“One of the Olympics’ most iconic moments has been the black power salute by Tommie Smith wayback when.
“That is something people remember the Olympics for, something they’re very proud to see.
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“So to think they’re suddenly going to get up and say ‘absolutely not’, I think they’d be shooting themselves in the foot.”
Team GB bosses have pledged to support athletes choosing to protest but in return will expect respect to be shown to fellow competitors.