The International Olympic Committee [IOC] has released new guidelines softening a long-standing ban on political protests at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

It means athletes will now be allowed to take the knee before play begins to highlight racial injustice, speak to the media and post online about their views, or wear clothing with a protest slogan at a press conference.

But political statements during events, victory ceremonies and at the Olympic Village are still off the cards, the IOC said.

Protests must not be “targeted, directly or indirectly, against people, countries, organisations and/or their dignity”, the sporting body said in a statement released on Friday.

“The new guidelines are a result of our extensive consultation with the global athletes’ community,” Kirsty Coventry, chair of the IOC’s athletes commission, said in a statement.

“While the guidelines offer new opportunities for athletes to express themselves prior to the competition, they preserve the competitions on the Field of Play, the ceremonies, the victory ceremonies and the Olympic Village.

“This was the wish of a big majority of athletes in our global consultation.”

It follows calls to relax rule 50.2 of the Olympic Charter, which states:

“No kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas.”