Australia women’s soccer team linked arms and posed in a group photograph with an Aboriginal flag rather than the national flag ahead of their Olympic Games opening group game against New Zealand on Wednesday night.
They took advantage of the International Olympic Committee’s relaxing of rules around protests and political statements at the Tokyo Olympics, just moments after the New Zealand team took a knee in support of the same issue.
Lydia Williams and Kyah Simon are indigenous Australians.
“We’re very proud of it,” said Australia’s skipper Sam Kerr, reports 7 News Australia. “We spoke a lot about it as a team. We wanted to do something that was important to us and show unity within our group.”
Political protests were banned from the 2021 Olympics, however taking a knee just before kick off is permitted and taking pre-game team photos is commonplace.
In earlier matches, women’s soccer players from Great Britain and Chile also took a knee.
“As players in Great Britain we’ve been taking the knee in club and international matches and we felt strongly as a group that we wanted to show support for those affected by discrimination and equality,” Steph Houghton, one of Team GB’s three captains, said.
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“It was a proud moment because the Chile players took the knee too to show how united we are as sport.”
Australia’s Matildas – who are ranked ninth in the world – will next take on Sweden, who already defeated USA 3-0, in the toughest group of the competition.