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Lindsey Vonn backs IOC move to outlaw podium protests

Lindsey Vonn backs IOC move to outlaw podium protests
© AP Photos
Human rights issues are a significant part of the backdrop to the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing.

Skiing superstar Lindsey Vonn has backed the International Olympic Committee's move to effectively outlaw podium protests at future Games but supported athletes wishing to highlight human rights issues in the build-up to Beijing 2022.

Vonn, who retired in 2019 as one of the most successful skiers in history with both world and Olympic golds, 16 overall World Cup season titles and a women's record 82 individual World Cup race wins, insists that while the podium is a "sacred place", officials must ensure other means for athletes' voices to be heard.

The IOC announced last month that it had upheld its controversial Rule 50, which bans protests by athletes inside stadiums, at ceremonies and on podiums, following an extended period of consultation with its own athletes' commission.

PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games – Day Twelve
Lindsey Vonn says the Olympic podium is a "sacred place" (David Davies/PA)

Vonn told the PA news agency: "I think while there have been historical moments in the past, it is important to respect the other two people on the podium and that should be a sacred place where protests shouldn't be held.

"But there are other places within the Olympics to be able to state your opinion, and I think the Olympics in Beijing is just another example.

"There are people who want to boycott and stand up for something, and that brings attention to social issues that I think are important. I have respect for anyone that is willing to go out on a limb and say how they feel to the world – that takes some gonads."

Vonn won her sole Olympic gold in the women's downhill at the 2010 Games in Vancouver and appeared on an Olympic podium twice more, winning bronze in the Super-G at the same Games then the downhill in Pyeongchang in 2018.

Early last month the US government was forced to deny that officials had discussed pulling out of the Beijing Games over alleged human rights abuses. Three weeks later, they raised the possibility of a "diplomatic boycott" of the Games, by which US politicians would not attend.

Vonn's former great rival Mikaela Shiffrin said in March that she resented that as an athlete she was forced to choose between her "morals" and her "job", and implied the IOC should take more care to award Games to nations without such significant concerns.

Vonn, speaking on the day of her induction as a member of the Laureus World Sports Academy, stressed the importance of athlete activism and said they should not hesitate to utilise their status if they felt strongly enough about an issue.

"I think that athletes have a voice just like anybody else," added Vonn. "Everybody has a microphone, but sometimes athletes have a louder microphone and if you believe in something then you should stand up for it and speak out."

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Olympic medal table header
CountryGold medalSilver MedalBronze MedalT
United StatesUnited States95822
Olympics flagOlympic Athletes from Russia57416
Great BritainGreat Britain45110
Today's Olympic highlights header

Tuesday's key events

· Team GB trio Vicky Holland, Georgia Taylor-Brown and Jess Learmonth all have realistic medal hopes in the women's event (10.30pm-1am)

· After an impressive opening day, Great Britain play their final group game against a Fiji side level with them at the top of the pool, but also yet to hit their brilliant best (1.30am)

· After disappointment for friend and housemate Jade Jones, Bianca Walkden will go for gold in the women's +67kg category (2am-2.30pm)
· Mahama Cho is another medal contender for Team GB in the men's +80kg class (2am-2.30pm)

· Team GB's Duncan Scott has the chance to claim his first individual Olympic medal in the men's 200m freestyle final. Teammate Tom Dean is also involved. (2.43am)
· Kathleen Dawson is the Team GB representative in the women's 100m backstroke final (2.51am)

· Eden Cheng and Lois Toulson will look to emulate Tom Daley and Matty Lee's success in the women's 10m synchro final (7am-8am)

· Three-time Olympic champion Charlotte Dujardin is part of a Team GB team going for gold in the dressage team Grand Prix final (9.30am)

· Superstar Simone Biles leads the United States side in the women's team final (11.45am-2.10pm)

· Team GB's women's team play their final group game, taking on Canada with qualification for the knockout rounds already secured (12pm)

> Today's schedule in full
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