A Letter From U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee CEO Sarah Hirshland On Racial And Social Demonstrations

by TeamUSA

Dear Team USA athletes –  

Today, as promised, we are sharing the next phase of a collaborative effort between the Team USA Council on Racial and Social Justice and USOPC that defines respectful demonstrations on the topic of racial and social justice as allowed at the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Trials.   

I want to thank all members of the Council on Racial and Social Justice – athletes, NGB and USOPC staff, and outside experts – who gave their time and perspective to this process. When you came forward with your recommendations in December, they reflected specific themes of social injustice and inequality that are prevalent in our society and addressed how those themes directly and personally impact the lives of America’s elite athletes.   

You also made it clear there is a deep desire for Team USA athletes to speak on these issues, and to lead as a positive force in our community.   

This Trials guidance defines latitude for athletes to express their personal perspectives on racial and social justice in a respectful way, and without fear of sanction from the USOPC.   

It’s clear this subject is an important one. Following our announcement around an updated approach to athlete demonstrations, I received an incredible range of opinions directly from members of the Olympic and Paralympic movements – and from many others outside the movements – representing our local, national and international communities.   

While we support your right to demonstrate peacefully in support of racial and social justice, we can’t control the actions others may take in response.  

However, I can commit the USOPC’s support as it relates to the following:   

  • Fair application of this guidance at our Olympic and Paralympic Team Trials;  \
  • Evaluation of this guidance prior to the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020; 
  • Creation of opportunities through Team USA platforms to promote America’s elite athletes and their commitment to racial and social justice;
  • Education through Team USA community town hall to promote dialogue and provide a foundational understanding of the Trials rules, along with future engagement opportunities for athletes to share firsthand experience. 

As seen in this education video, experience with demonstration can lead to positive change, benefits and progress, and it may come with emotional or financial consequences.   

I have confidence you’ll make the best decision for you, your sport and your fellow competitors.   

Our Olympic and Paralympic community, including alumni athletes, current athletes and future generations of hopefuls, is unique in its diversity – in race, gender, background and perspectives – but we are united as members of Team USA and we are a powerful force for good.   

This  defines latitude for athletes to express their personal perspectives on racial and social justice in a respectful way, and without fear of sanction from the USOPC.   

With appreciation,    

Sarah Hirshland
U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee

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