The pair spoke earlier today to Good Morning Britain on ITV.
Former Olympian and gold medallist Tessa Sanderson told Kate Garraway and Richard Madeley, ahead of the Tokyo Olympics opening ceremony, “I am relieved that the games are going ahead.”
On competing without the roar of the crowds supporting the athletes, Tessa said, “I do think that a lot of athletes will have to really focus and think back to the times when it’s just ‘coach and me’ and no one else around and I’m sure most will have gone through this sort of tunnel vision, and this is what the games are going to be like… but I’m sure there’s going to be lots of surprises and world records too.”
Of GB’s Dina Asher-Smith warning officials against punishing her or any other athlete who chooses to take the knee on the podium, Tessa agreed. “I have to agree with that. I think it’s everybody’s right to do as they wish and we don’t want the games to be a political stand, but there are a lot of things going on about black lives matter, and you know, we do matter. At the end of the day, Dina is saying that if any athletes want to take the knee then they should. And they should do because it’s their own right and its freedom of speech, it’s how they feel…”
Fellow gold medallist Jonathan Edwards’ opinion slightly differed. He said, “This idea that sport and politics should be separate is nonsense… Some of the things Dina is saying are important but on background, there’s something for rule 50 which the Olympic committee has which has formerly banned any political protest within the field of play but they’ve relaxed that and have said that athletes can quietly make a stand but not to do it on the podium.
“So I think for athletes there is an important distinction to be made between the podium moment which the olympic committee feel should be about celebrating the performance and not taking away from perhaps somebody else that’s on the podium who doesn’t want to make any kind of demonstration.
“Formula One is quite interesting, they have a moment before the race where they can take the knee or not take the knee and then afterwards – at the celebrations – Lewis Hamilton for example, doesn’t make any political demonstration there. So you can imagine Dina taking the knee just before the race – not wanting to say what she has to do – but maybe keeping it separate from the podium. I think the athletes need to make a stand but at the same time to do it in a sensitive way.”