Costa Rican gymnast Luciana Alvarado,18, took her shot at the Tokyo Olympics as an opportunity to show her support for the Black Lives Matter movement. At the end of her floor routine during the event semi-finals on July 25, 2021, she took a knee and proudly raised her fist in the air as a tribute to BLM. Although she did not make it into the finals, Luciana made her statement and captured the hearts of many with her show of support. Alvarado is the first gymnast from Costa Rica to qualify for the Olympics so it’s even more meaningful that she used this moment to take a stand against racism. Even though her score of 12.166 didn’t put her in medal contention this time around, her appearance in Tokyo will forever make her a notable Olympic figure.
🇨🇷 | ALERTA OLÍMPICA: Al terminar su rutina, con la rodilla en el piso, la cabeza hacia atrás y el puño en alto, la gimnasta costarricense Luciana Alvarado homenajeó al movimiento Black Lives Matter.#CRC #Tokyo2020 #ArtisticGymnastics
— Alerta News 24 (@AlertaNews24) July 26, 2021
“My cousin and I, we both do it in our routines,” Luciana said in an interview with the GymCastic podcast after onlookers noticed the move during her rehearsal at the Olympics the previous Friday. “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,'” she explained.
Luciana Alvarado made history in #Tokyo today as the first gymnast from Costa Rica to ever compete at the Olympics. Then she did it again by using her platform to make a statement in support of #BlackLivesMatter : https://t.co/vR8HecdOGg
— tess 🌸 (@tess_demeyer) July 25, 2021
The International Olympic Committee has strict rules regarding the Olympic athletes’ right to protest. Though the regulations were recently loosened, according to Rule 50, athletes are still not permitted to protest on the medal stand or during competition. However, Luciana found a loophole in the Olympics rules, by incorporating the move as an artistic element in an artistic competition, making it nearly impossible to penalize her for the tribute.
It was not a spur of the moment choice for Luciana who told the Associated Press that the routine was choreographed in homage to the Black Lives Matter movement. “Because we’re all the same,” she said, “and we’re all beautiful and amazing,” she told AP after completing her Olympics floor routine. Perhaps Luciana deemed making her stance known and standing up for what she believes in worth the risk. Now, she’s being applauded online for her bold move, with many cheering on her powerful statement.
Luciana is not the only female athlete to make a social statement during the Tokyo Olympics. Several female soccer players have taken a knee before their matches, the women’s soccer team from Australia also linked arms in support of Aboriginal people and the women’s gymnastics team from Germany bucked tradition and wore full-length unitards to compete instead of the booty-baring leotards that we’re used to seeing. And that’s just in the first few days so we anticipate (and hope) for more moments of taking a stand and raising awareness and, of course, major wins for Latin America.