Australia’s Matildas posed with an Aboriginal flag and linked arms as their own special statement against racism ahead of their Olympic Games opening group game against New Zealand, which they won 2-1.
The Kiwis had taken a knee to protest against racism while the Australians had stood opposite them with arms linked in their own special statement, before posing with the red, black and yellow flag.
The International Olympic Committee relaxed rules around protests or political statements at the Games ahead of the Tokyo Olympics – allowing athletes latitude outside of competition or dais appearances.
“We’re very proud of [the statement],” said Sam Kerr. “We spoke a lot about it as a team. We wanted to do something that was important to us and show unity within our group.
“We didn’t want to do something that goes along with the grain, we wanted to do something that was relevant for our country.
“We want to do Australia proud and hopefully we did that tonight. Everyone at home, we feel your love, hopefully you’re out of quarantine soon.”
Two of the Matildas team, Lydia Williams and Kyah Simon, are Indigenous Australians.
— Matt Johnson (@matte_johnson) July 21, 2021
The Guardian newspaper reported Wednesday that while the IOC had given the green light for protests, it and Tokyo 2020 organisers had banned their own social media teams for posting protest content.
A source told the paper “the message was delivered from on high on Tuesday evening Tokyo time, with a specific reference to Team GB’s women’s first football match against Chile, just hours before it kicked off in Sapporo on Wednesday.
“The image of both teams taking the knee beforehand, in a protest against racism and online hate, was seen on live TV and the gesture was then followed by United States and Sweden players as well as those from New Zealand.
“However none of these powerful pictures were posted on the official Tokyo 2020 live blog, or its Facebook and Twitter pages, or its Instagram site.”
The Matildas began sharply going to a 2-0 lead at halftime through Tameka Yallop and Sam Kerr, the Chelsea star scoring for the first time against New Zealand. But the Kiwis cut the margin to 2-1 in the dying minutes.
The game was a must win for the Matildas who are in a tough group with the USA and Sweden. Sweden shocked the Americans 3-0 earlier Wednesday and the Matildas would have hoped for more than a one goal differnce from the game.
— Matildas (@TheMatildas) July 21, 2021