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Costa Rican, Luciana Alvarado, applauded for Olympic 1st

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Picture courtesy of Tamarindo News

Costa Rican gymnast Luciana Alvarado, 18, took her opportunity at the Tokyo Olympics as a chance to show her support and alliance for the Black Lives Matter movement.

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During the semi-finals event on July 25, 2021, Alvarado took a knee and proudly raised her fist in the air at the end of her floor routine as a tribute to BLM.

Although Alvarado did not make it into the finals, she made sure her statement was clear and warmed many hearts with her show of support.

Furthermore, she is the first gymnast from Costa Rica to qualify for the Olympics; therefore, it’s even more meaningful she decided to stand against racism at that moment. Alvarado’s appearance in Tokyo will always be unforgettable, even though her scoring of 12.166 didn’t place her in medal contention.

“My cousin and I, we both do it in our routines,” Alvarado said in an interview with GymCastic podcast. “And I feel like if you do something that brings everyone together, you see that here, like ‘Yes, you’re one of mine, you understand things; the importance of everyone treated with respect and dignity and everyone having the same rights because we’re all the same and we’re all beautiful and amazing.’”

The International Olympic Committee has strict rules regarding Olympic athletes’ right to protest. According to Rule 50, athletes are prohibited from protesting on the medal stand and during competition. But, Alvarado found a loophole in the rule by including the move as an artistic element in an artistic competition, making it hard to penalize her for the tribute.

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Alvarado told Associated Press the move was not a spur-of-the-moment choice, and it was choreographed in the routine to pay homage to the Black Lives Matter movement. “Because we’re all the same and we’re all beautiful and amazing,” she said. Alvarado feels making her stance for what she believes in is worth the risk.

In a segment on the Black News Channel, Sharon Reed, TV Personality, said, “I’m very proud of her. She didn’t just do this to say, ‘I support you Black people in America.’ This is also a lesson on what happened in Costa Rica: the slave trade there, the influx of Black Jamaicans. She got her point across.”

On the other hand, Alvarado is not the only female athlete to protest for social justice during the Tokyo Olympics. Many athletes on women’s soccer teams, such as players from the United States, Sweden, Chile, New Zealand, and Great Britain, have taken a knee before matches. The Australian women’s soccer team linked arms to show support for Australian Aboriginal people. Also, the Germany women’s gymnastics team protested the sexualization of women’s sports by competing in full-length unitards instead of traditional booty-baring leotards.

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