More recently, Australian swimmer Mack Horton refused to step onto the podium with Sun Yang at the 2019 world championships after accusing the Chinese gold medalist of going virtually unpunished for alleged doping infractions. Horton got some support from other athletes, but was heavily criticized by others. Sun was later banned for eight years.
“The majority of athletes don’t want to see protests on the field of play or anywhere that would detract from the performance or experience of other athletes,” said Hooker, the 2008 Olympic pole vault champion. But, “”athletes are not sure how or when they’re allowed to express themselves off the field of play.”
Hooker disagreed with a suggestion during an online news conference Friday that Australian athletes could be viewed as being hypocritical by supporting Horton’s stance but then not fully embracing demonstrations.
He said the survey showed 10% of people would protest on the podium under any circumstances, and another 20% would do so under some circumstances.
“What we’re talking about here is people that have strong views,” he said. “Mack particularly has strong views, and he expressed those views.”
Hooker said his family was close to Norman and he’d always been aware of the Australian sprinter’s role in 1968.
“He found himself in a situation and, as a humanitarian, he did what he believed was the right thing to do at that point in time,” Hooker said. “I think we’ve got a number of people on our team that would fall into a similar frame of mind.”