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The new Olympic spirit of protest

Politics at the Olympics are nothing new. In 1968, two black athletes who won medals in the 200m race raised a fist to protest racial inequality, a move that got them banned from the Olympics for life. A few years later, the IOC introduced Rule 50, which reads: "It is a fundamental principle that sport is neutral and must be separate from political, religious or any other type of interference." As this year's Tokyo Games wrap up, they'll be remembered not just for the pandemic, or the heated local battles over whether they should happen at all. They are also a moment when Rule 50 got squishy. Whether it was soccer players taking a knee, German gymnasts in full body leotards, or Australian athletes holding up an indigenous flag, there's been a lot of protesting going on. And to some extent, the rules have been relaxed - though not everyone agrees they should be.

Podcast: The IOC's Dick Pound on how sports and politics should mix

Listen: On the GZERO World Podcast, a look at the long history of protest at the Games with Dick Pound, the longest serving member of the International Olympic Committee and a former Olympic athlete himself. With COVID rates rising globally, this year's Olympics faced some major hurdles. But the pandemic was only part of the picture. The Tokyo Games played out against a backdrop of mounting global tension surrounding gender equality, racism and human rights, leaving many people to examine the place of politics on the playing field and podium.

Subscribe to the GZERO World Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or your preferred podcast platform to receive new episodes as soon as they're published.


How should athletes protest at the Olympics?

For Dick Pound, the longest serving member of the International Olympic Committee, protesting at the Games is fine — as long as it doesn't "interfere" with the competition itself or awards ceremonies. The Olympics, in his view, are an oasis of calm in the middle of an increasingly tense world, and "we shouldn't be spoiling that by pointing out the obvious , which is that there are social and political problems." Watch his interview with Ian Bremmer on the latest episode of GZERO World on US public television.

This Belarusian great-grandmother is one of Lukashenko’s fiercest critics

Belarusian president Lukashenko dismissed his female opponent's campaign because, he said, society was "not mature enough to vote for a woman." The weight of the presidency, he added, "would cause her to collapse, poor thing." In fact, women have emerged as the protest movement's greatest force, taking over the streets wearing white and carrying flowers and colorful umbrellas. One 73-year-old great grandmother has become a symbol of the protest movement: Nina Baginskaya, who has fearlessly stood up to police during Lukashenko's brutal crackdown.

Watch the episode of GZERO World with Ian Bremmer: The fight for democracy in Europe's last dictatorship

Podcast: Fighting for democracy in "Europe's last dictatorship"


Listen: Is there a path to democracy for Europe's last dictatorship, Belarus? Exiled Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya discusses her hopes and fears for the country with Ian Bremmer on the GZERO World Podcast. President Alexander Lukashenko has maintained a tight grip on power in Belarus for the last 26 years and rigged the results of his last election which led to widespread protest and unrest in his country, though few consequences globally. But will he now be held accountable after diverting a flight between two European capitals to arrest a dissident journalist? And just how close are he and Vladimir Putin?

Subscribe to the GZERO World Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or your preferred podcast platform to receive new episodes as soon as they're published.

Life under dictatorship in Belarus

What should you put in your bag before leaving home in Belarus nowadays if you openly criticize the government? Opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya recommends packing an extra pair of pants and socks in case you get kidnapped or thrown in jail because under strongman President Alexander Lukashenko, you "feel that you don't have rights at all."

Her conversation with Ian Bremmer is part of an interview on the upcoming episode of GZERO World, which begins airing on US public television Friday, June 11. Check local listings.

AstraZeneca vaccine politics may further damage Europe's economy

Ian Bremmer shares his perspective on the latest news in global politics on World In :60 - that is, :180.


First. What is going on with the AstraZeneca vaccine?

Well, around Europe, we have all of these countries that have suspended giving out AstraZeneca vaccines, because there have been some side effects of people that are taking it. Blood clots, a tiny number of folks, actually fewer side effects for AstraZeneca than we've seen for Pfizer, but it's become this big political show. After a few countries start shutting it down, others do because they can't be left by themselves. I just talked to a major senior official from one country saying, "Yeah, we were under pressure. We want to keep it going." World Health Organization said it's fine. AstraZeneca itself who has done the trials, say it's fine. And this is slowing down an already very slow vaccine rollout in Europe. They were doing a lot of things reasonably well in terms of dealing with the pandemic, but absolutely not this. They're a couple of months behind the United States right now in terms of getting to herd immunity. This is going to slow them down. It's going to hurt their economic growth this year. Okay.

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