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Should Tokyo be the arena of activism? | ticker VIEWS



While it may be the world arena for sporting competition, the Olympics is far from just being about our best athletes with many using their day to voice their beliefs

Tokyo 2020 Olympics – Gymnastics – Artistic – Women’s Beam – Qualification – Ariake Gymnastics Centre, Tokyo, Japan – July 25, 2021. Elisabeth Seitz of Germany in action on the balance beam REUTERS/Mike Blake

Sporting events have been a platform for activism for decades as athletes world-wide take to the stage to speak up against social injustice.

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics is no different, with gender equality this year’s central point of focus. 

During the weekend’s Olympic competition, Germany’s women’s gymnastics team defied expectations competing in sparkly sequined full-body unitards rather than the standard leotard.

The wardrobe change was in protest against the history of sexualisation and objectification of both women and girls in the sport, with the team receiving full support from the judges panel. 

Instagram of German Gymnast Kim Bui

Norwegian women’s handball team also speak out

Earlier this month the Norwegian women’s team showed up to their match against Spain for the European beach handball championship, knowing they too were bound to make a statement.

Also protesting against the sexualisation of women, the team wore bike shorts instead of the usual bikini attire, close to the uniform of their male counterparts.

The team gained attention from thousands globally but unlike the support Germany’s gymnastic team received, the move wasn’t as widely accepted by officials.

Consequently, the team were fined 1,500 euros with the European Handball Federation (EHF) deeming the move as “a case of improper clothing”.  

Instagram of Women’s Norwegian Beach Handball team

Yet, while using sport as a platform to educate fans on key societal issues may be perceived as an effective way of raising awareness, could it be decreasing the value of sport competition among the eyes of fans? 

Dr Alyson Crozier, Senior Lecturer in Human Movement, Sport and Exercise Psychology, says protesting in sport is an avenue for athletes to use their success as a platform to advance social causes and is often a catalyst to change social norms and cultures within particular groups.

“The protests don’t change the competition, but highlight a particular perspective that an athlete or team of athletes hold,” Dr Crozier says.

“It does often anger viewers, especially if they hold a different perspective to the athlete.”

A survey by ESPN found that seven in every ten fans support teams and athletes who speak out on issues of social justice and racial equality, however 49 percent of respondents were unsure of whether that conversation should take place on the field or court.

Additionally, there was uncertainty over how long players should spend voicing their opinions on specific issues with only half of all fans supporting a season-long advocacy. 

“Protests are not meant to be convenient or something that is scheduled to always occur off-field…Ultimately it will depend on what purpose the athlete has to protest.” Dr Crozier says.

“For the Norwegian female handball team, they likely felt that an on-field protest was required, as any off-field attempts to change the rules around the attire fell flat.”

Whether or not fans approve of activism in sport, there’s a high chance that it’s here to stay as athletes continue to think outside the box on how they can use their sport to take a stand against injustice.

Written by Rebecca Borg

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Rafa Nadal pulls out of French Open



The Spaniard has failed to regain full fitness from a hip injury sustained earlier this year

Rafa Nadal has delivered news that no tennis fan wanted to hear.

The King of Clay will miss the French Open after failing to regain full fitness from a hip injury suffered at the Australian Open back in January.

The 14-time Roland Garros winner says he expects to retire following the 2024 season.

Nadal has dominated the clay court season for close to two decades.

The 22-time Grand Slam champion fronted a widely anticipated press conference at his tennis academy in Mallorca to drop the bombshell, saying its the right thing to do for his body and personal happiness.

“I’ll look to be 100% ready for next year, which I believe will be the last year of my professional career,” Nadal told a news conference at his tennis academy in Mallorca, Spain.

“The evolution of the injury I sustained in Australia has not gone as I would have liked. I have lost goals along the way, and Roland Garros becomes impossible.”

“I’ll not establish a date for my return. I’ll see how my body responds and take it from there,” said the 36-year-old. “If I keep playing at this moment, I don’t think I can be there next year.

“I don’t know if I’ll be able to come back in the highest level and compete for Grand Slams. What I will try to do is to give myself the opportunity to go back to what could be my final year competing at the highest level.”

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China expresses concerns about ‘politicisation of sports’



The East Asian nation raised the issue when Premier Li met with the head of the IOC, Thomas Bach

China has expressed concerns to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) about the politicisation of sporting events.

The issue was raised when Chinese Premier Li Qiang met Thomas Bach, the head of the IOC, in Beijing over the weekend.

“China’s efforts to promote the Olympic spirit will never cease, and [China is] ready to work with IOC to oppose the politicisation of sports, and make further contributions to the Olympic movement,” Li said.

It is rare for China to raise such concerns with the IOC in public, and it was the first time it had made such comments since the Winter Olympics in Beijing early last year.

The United States and several of its allies took part in a diplomatic boycott of the Games, citing alleged human rights abuse in China’s far west region of Xinjiang.

Beijing has repeatedly denied the accusation and said it opposes any attempts to politicise sporting events.

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Tasmanian AFL team becomes reality



Tasmania will have a team in the AFL after all 18 current teams agreed to the motion

An exciting day for residents of the Australian state of Tasmania today.

Outgoing AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan confirming Tasmania has been granted the league’s 19th licence.

It follows the nation’s federal government confirming it will cover the $240 million shortfall to fund a new multi-purpose stadium at Macquarie Point.

This has long been viewed as Tasmania’s most significant hurdle for entry into the league.

All 18 clubs supported the state’s bid, before the AFL Commission agreed to a formal ratification.

McLachlan fronted a press conference at North Hobart Oval, alongside Premier Jeremy Rockliff, Acting Prime Minister Richard Marles and a whole host of players.

The CEO says the decision “will finally make [the] competitions truly national”. #trending #featured

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