Dina Asher-Smith sparks BLM row on Vine as athlete defends athletes taking the knee

Dina Asher-Smith: Vine panellists clash over knee taking stance

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British sprinter Dina Asher-Smith insisted Olympic participants should not face punishment should they decide to take the knee during the competition. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) rolled back its Rule 50 restrictions which warned athletes “no kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda” is permitted during the game. The change has opened up the doors to participants taking the knee ahead of competitions but taking the knee on the podium has remained banned.

Asher-Smith’s intervention sparked a lively debate on Jeremy Vine’s daily show, with the host questioning whether the sprinter might bypass the ban and take the knee during award ceremonies.

Mr Vine said: “Sprinter Dina Asher-Smith, who essentially wants to do it, but the Olympics people don’t like it.”

Panellist James Max insisted sport had become enmeshed with the politics behind the taking the knee gesture and athletes should not take away from the main Olympics events.

Mr Max said: “No, they don’t like it. What I think they’re particularly against is people making a stand when they’re on the podium because they think that’s going to take away from the moment and the sport.

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“They say they don’t want to have any politics at all. I think there are two elements to this.

“I don’t think in our day and age we can divorce politics and sport because they are intrinsically linked, like it or not, even though they probably shouldn’t be.

“Combine the fact that, sadly, the whole knee thing has been overtaken by a political movement. Because it’s become party-polluted, even if you don’t think it is, I would like to see people have a great way to say that ‘we do not believe in discrimination, we are fighting against it, and we’re going to do that.’

“But if you start to do that before any particular event, it kinda takes away from the event itself.”

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However, panellist Ashley James suggested the Olympics could serve as the most appropriate platform to protest against racist behaviour in sport.

She cited recent abuse England’s Marcus Rashford, Bukayo Saka and Jadon Sancho faced after missing penalties during the Euro2020 final as examples justifying shows of solidarity from other athletes.

Ms James said: “People should absolutely be allowed to do it.

“Last weekend, Lewis Hamilton faced racism after the Formula 1, we saw it in the Euro2020 final – the penalty takers experience racism. I don’t think it’s a political thing to stand up against racism.”

Mr Max however added: “I agree, it isn’t. But taking the knee has been overtaken by a political movement.”

Ms James said: “But football have said it’s not about politics, it’s about making a stand against racism.

“For the athletes, what a better time when you’re on the biggest platform in your career to make that stand?”

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