Olympics-Soccer-Britain's women's team take knee in Olympic opener

TOKYO, July 21 (Reuters) - Great Britain’s women’s footballers took the knee before their Tokyo Olympics opening 2-0 win over Chile on Wednesday, fulfilling a pre-Games promise to support racial equality and establishing a significant precedent later followed by other teams.

On the first day of sport at Tokyo 2020 and with the International Olympic Committee confirming the gesture did not violate its Rule 50 banning political statements, the United States and Sweden both followed suit ahead of their match, as did New Zealand.

For Team GB captain Steph Houghton it was important to follow through with a promise made before the Games.

“Taking the knee was something we spoke about as a group. We feel so strongly and we want to show we’re united,” she said.

“We want to fight all forms of discrimination and as a group of women we wanted to kneel against it.”

Black players in the England men’s team were subjected to a storm of online racist abuse this month after their Euro 2020 final defeat, drawing widespread condemnation from the squad’s captain, manager, royalty, religious leaders and politicians.

The IOC’s Rule 50 forbids any kind of “demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda” in Olympic venues and any other Olympic area. (Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; editing by John Stonestreet)