53 years on, John Carlos still sees the IOC as a money-chasing dictatorship


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53 years on, John Carlos still sees the IOC as a money-chasing dictatorship

Dr John Carlos was thrown out of the 1968 Games after making a stand for human rights. He does not see much progress by the IOC in the decades since

Etan Thomas
Mon 24 May 2021 04.00 EDT

I recently had the honor of sitting down with Dr John Carlos for my podcast, The Rematch. I wanted to get the thoughts of the man who made history by protesting in support of human rights on the podium alongside Tommie Smith at the 1968 Olympics. His views are particularly timely given the International Olympic Committee’s intention to enforce its infamous Rule 50 in Tokyo this summer. Under Rule 50, athletes are banned from protesting on the podium, field of play or at ceremonies (they can still express political views on social media or in interviews). It may as well be called the John Carlos and Tommie Smith rule.

It is unclear what punishment athletes will face if they ignore Rule 50 and protest, but in 1968 the US Olympic Committee, under pressure from the IOC, expelled Carlos and Smith from the Games. Carlos told me he is concerned athletes will face similar punishments this year in Tokyo.


“We had one of the most dire times in world history with this virus that has been going around,” he said. “And they will force the Games through [despite] the virus. We’re gonna bring athletes from all over the world to host these Games, for [the IOC’s] bottom line … No matter who is at the helm of the International Olympic Committee, they are protecting their interest: money.”