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USOC leader: Athletes have right to express themselves 

By: EDDIE PELLS, AP National Writer
September 25, 2017 Updated: September 25, 2017 at 12:28 pm
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FILE - In this Aug. 1, 2017 file photo, U,S, Olympic Committee CEO Scott Blackmun speaks about the Team USA WinterFest for the upcoming 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games at Yongsan Garrison, a U.S. military base in Seoul, South Korea. Over the next five weeks, leaders from LA and the U.S. Olympic Committee have to iron out financial details about their joint marketing agreement that will figure heavily into the USOC's ability to fund its athletes and sports organizations through those 2028 Games. Sorting out the agreement is one of the biggest hurdles to clear before the IOC meets the week of Sept. 11 in Lima, Peru, to approve Paris to host the 2024 Olympics and Los Angeles for 2028. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

PARK CITY, Utah — The leader of the American Olympic movement says the U.S. Olympic Committee recognizes the right of athletes to express themselves at the Games, even though Olympic rules forbid political protests.

The comments came Monday, in the wake of shows of solidarity among NFL players who were angered by President Donald Trump's stance on kneeling during the national anthem.

Last year, the USOC honored Tommie Smith and John Carlos , whose raised-fist salute during "The Star-Spangled Banner" at the 1968 Olympics stands as one of the seminal moments in sports protests.

National anthems are played at the Olympics to honor the winners of events.

USOC CEO Scott Blackmun said: "Our stance on this is fairly clear, and we recognize the rights of athletes to express themselves."

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