The IPC Athletes' Council has said the majority want to protect the podium from protests ©Getty Images

The majority of Para athletes who took part in a consultation process have signalled their desire for protests on the podium or the field of play at the Paralympic Games to remain banned, according to International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Athletes' Council chairperson Chelsey Gotell.

Gotell said the IPC Athletes' Council, which has held a series of workshops to gather views from athletes on demonstrations at the Games, would present its final recommendations to the Governing Board by late February.

It appears the Council will recommend existing rules which prevent protests on the podium and other areas of the field of play be maintained.

Under IPC regulations for the Paralympics, Para-athletes are free to share their views on any subject on social media and when speaking to media, but they are not allowed to use the field of play for protest.

But the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee announced this week that it would not sanction athletes for demonstrating at the Olympics and Paralympics, including on the podium.

The most successful country in the history of the Games opening the door to allowing athletes to protest at the event is seen as a significant step, even if athletes in other nations, such as Australia and Canada, have suggested the podium and the field of play should be protected.

IPC Athletes' Council chairperson Chelsey Gotell said recommendations on protests would be made to the Governing Board by late February ©IPC
IPC Athletes' Council chairperson Chelsey Gotell said recommendations on protests would be made to the Governing Board by late February ©IPC

In an update on the IPC consultation process - which included 10 workshops between October and November, attended by athletes from 74 countries and spanning 27 sports - Gotell said "the majority of Paralympians and Para athletes would welcome an opportunity to express themselves during the Games but in a manner that still requires such expressions remain outside the field of play, podium and ceremonies".

"Athletes were very clear that they want Tokyo 2020 and future Games to be remembered for sporting achievements more than anything else," the Canadian Para swimmer added.

Gotell said the IPC Athletes' Council will now establish a follow-up survey "with the global athlete community so that we can continue gathering their views".

She said the USOPC statement would be included "with all the views of athletes provided by each of the 186 NPCs within the Paralympic Movement".

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) earlier this year asked its Athletes Commission to conduct a similar exercise amid growing pressure on the organisation to relax or abolish its Rule 50, which prohibits athletes from protesting at the Olympic Games.

Rule 50 states: "No kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas."

IOC President Thomas Bach has warned the Olympics should not be "a marketplace of demonstrations" but other leading figures, including World Athletics head Sebastian Coe, have indicated their support for athletes who protest at the Games.