Costa Rican gymnast Luciana Alvarado made history at the Tokyo Olympics after protesting in favor of Black Lives Matter.

On Sunday, the 18-year-old took a moment at the conclusion of her floor routine to place a power fist in the air while also taking a knee.

“My cousin and I, we both do it in our routines,” she said, Today reported. “And I feel like if you do something that brings everyone together, you know, and 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 so I think that's why I love to have it in my routine and I love that my little cousin does it on her routine too."


The tribute makes history as it is the first to take place on a global stage for elite gymnastics. Alvarado also paved the way for her home country as the first gymnast from Costa Rica to qualify for the Olympics. 

"I'm very proud of her," Sharon Reed said in a segment on the Black News Channel. "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." 

As Blavity previously reported, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) banned athletes from wearing Black Lives Matter apparel during the Summer Games this year after a survey showed that 70% of competitors think demonstrating any “political, religious or racial propaganda” should be prohibited.

“A very clear majority of athletes said that they think it’s not appropriate to demonstrate or express their views on the field of play, at the official ceremonies or at the podium,” Kirsty Coventry, the International Olympic Committee’s commission chief, said during a press conference. “So our recommendation is to preserve the podium, field of play and official ceremonies from any kind of protest or demonstrations or acts perceived as such.”

The ban upholds Rule 50, which traditionally bans expression of the aforementioned views. 

Athletes were also prohibited from taking a knee or raising a first during the opening ceremonies or the national anthem. During press conferences, interviews or team meetings, however, Olympians are allowed to demonstrate their views without penalty. 

A letter released one day prior to the start of this year’s Olympics requested that the IOC refrain from penalizing athletes who demonstrate, regardless of when and where and disputed the survey’s sample population.

“Our letter adds to global collective efforts calling for amendments to IOC Rule 50/IPC Section 2.2 to communicate a commitment to human rights, racial justice, and social inclusion in the Olympic and Paralympic Movements,” the letter read. 

Olympic medalists Tommie Smith and John Carlos, who were suspended from Team USA and banned from Olympic village after raising a fist while on the podium during the 1968 Mexico games, are among those who signed the letter.

“Therefore, with this letter we add a collective voice – representing academic experts, educators and advocates on the intersection of sport, human rights, and racial/social justice in global society – to call for amendments to the IOC’s and IPC’s [International Paralympic Committee] approach to athlete expression generally, and IOC Rule 50.2/IPC Section 2.2 specifically, while reaffirming a commitment to human rights and racial/social justice in the Olympic and Paralympic Movements,” the letter stated. 

The letter also addressed objectivity, arguing that “neutrality is never neutral.”

"Staying neutral means staying silent, and staying silent means supporting ongoing injustice," the letter continued. “We believe the global sport community is at a turning point in matters of racial and social justice, and we call on you as leaders in the Olympic and Paralympic Movements to make a stronger commitment to human rights, racial/social justice, and social inclusion.”

In addition to Alvarado's tribute to Black Lives Matter, other athletes have also amplified their voices. Athletes on women's soccer teams from the United States, Sweden, Chile, New Zealand and Great Britain, took a knee before their matches, and the Australian team linked arms to show support for Australian Aboriginal people. Following suit, the German women's gymnastics team protested the sexualization of women's sports by competing in full-length unitards instead of their traditional leotards, USA Today reported