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The International Olympic Committee banned athletes from any form of social protests during the upcoming 2020 Tokyo Games. The IOC's Athlete's Commission released guidelines on Thursday (Jan. 9) warning athletes to keep Olympic venues and the podium free of “political, religious or ethnic demonstrations.”
“We believe that the example we set by competing with the world’s best while living in harmony in the Olympic Village is a uniquely positive message to send to an increasingly divided world,” the commission explained in a statement. “This is why it is important, on both a personal and a global level, that we keep the venues, the Olympic Village and the podium neutral and free from any form of political, religious or ethnic demonstrations.
“If we do not, the life’s work of the athletes around us could be tarnished and the world would quickly no longer be able to look at us competing and living respectfully together, as conflicts drive a wedge between individuals and nations.”
Kneeling, raising fists, and displaying any political messaging (including signs or armbands) are named as banned forms of social protests. The IOC also added a list of other places where athletes can go to “express” their views” during the Olympic Games.
Athletes have been known to make social and political statements at the Olympics, years before Colin Kaepernick spearheaded kneeling on the football field. Most notably at the 1968 Olympic games in Mexico City where Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised the black power fist while the U.S. National Anthem played in the stadium.
U.S. Olympian Gwen Berry lambasted the newly-released IOC regulations as a “form of control.” Berry, a competitor in the 2016 games in the hammer throw, raised her first at the Pan Am Games last year.
“It’s kind of like silencing us at the biggest moments of our lives. I really don’t agree with it,” Berry told Yahoo! Sports.“They want it to just be sports, for the love of sports.
“We sacrifice for something for four years, and we’re at our highest moment. We should be able to say whatever we want to say, do whatever we have to do – for our brand, our culture, the people who support us, the countries that support us, [everything]. We shouldn’t be silenced. It definitely is a form of control.”
The summer Olympics kick off on Friday, July 24.
In partnership with RIP Medical, the Atlanta Hawks' Trae Young supported the nonprofit's mission of eliminating debt for the city's residents who couldn't afford certain bills. According to WSB-TV, Young's $10,000 donation led the $1,059,186.39 medical debt to be erased.
"The city of Atlanta has welcomed me with open arms. Giving back to this community is extremely important to me," the guard said. "I hope these families can find a bit of relief knowing that their bills have been taken care of as we enter the New Year." Since 2014, RIP Medical Debt has wiped out over $1 billion in healthcare costs since its inception, ABC News reports.
In a November 2019 report by CNBC, 137 million Americans are dealing with astronomical medical debt. So much so that the report claims Americans have been considering dipping into their 401(k)s to assist with the medical costs.
A year after joining the league in 2018, the 21-year-old established a foundation in his name. The outlet "was formed with the goals of continuing education for mental health problems, particularly cyber and social media bullying. Children and adults on a daily basis deal with depression, anxiety, PTSD among other issues that are caused by cyber and social media bullying."
"Blessed to have such a great team around me to help me make this happen!!" he tweeted. "For the A #MakeADifference."
Blessed to have such a Great Team around me to help me make this happen!!
For the A❤️ #MakeADifference https://t.co/EIAFDN9ViR
— Trae Young (@TheTraeYoung) January 8, 2020
Three years ago, LeBron James and his foundation met with the Akron Public Schools board to form a new school that focuses on at-risk students. In his hometown of Akron, Ohio, James and his team made headlines by establishing the I Promise School, a continuation of his 2011 program of the same name.
To commemorate this stride in education, James' longtime brand partner Nike teamed up to create a new colorway of the three-time NBA champion's 17s, leading Nike to note the action was "fueled by" the Los Angeles Laker's dedication to revamping the education system in Akron.
"His passionate optimism is characterized in the shoe's colorful, kaleidoscopic upper and outsole," the statement reads. "The LeBron James Family Foundation crown is on the tongue, while aspirational phrases, such as 'I promise I will dream big,' appear on the laces. Nike proudly supports the mission of the I Promise School through a charitable donation to the LeBron James Family Foundation."
According to The New York Times, the school's 240 students performed exceedingly well—primarily those within the third and fourth grades—a year after the school opened. “When we first started, people knew I was opening a school for kids," James said to the publication. "Now people are going to really understand the lack of education they had before they came to our school. People are going to finally understand what goes on behind our doors.”
The kicks make its debut on Jan. 21.
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Just a kid from Akron, building a legacy that extends far beyond the basketball court. ⠀ @kingjames is using the power of sport to help change the game for every kid from Akron and beyond. His story will never be repeated, and that's exactly the point. #JustDoIt