The announcement last week of the death of Lee Evans, the 1968 Olympic 400 metres gold medallist, re-focused attention on the athlete protests - by him and several United States team mates - that marked those Games in Mexico.
As athletes from all sports around the globe begin to believe that they will actually be competing at the delayed Olympics due to start in Tokyo on July 23, the question of whether or not protests should take place on or around the podium during the Games is also becoming a pressing, rather than theoretical, concern.
The International Olympic Committee's (IOC) Rule 50 of the Olympic Charter addresses a range of issues including advertising, demonstrations and propaganda. The first section of Rule 50 addresses advertising and is accompanied by nine byelaws seeking to protect the commercial interests of the IOC.
The second says: "No kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas."
Last month the IOC released results of a survey undertaken by its Athletes' Commission which found that 70 per cent of the 3,547 respondents, who spanned 185 countries and all 41 Olympic sports, said the field of play and official ceremonies were not an appropriate place for competitors to demonstrate or protest.
More than two thirds - 67 per cent - held the same view when it came to the podium.
Had such a consultation been conducted among athletes prior to the Mexico City 1968 Olympics, would Evans, or his team mates and fellow demonstrators such as Tommie Smith and John Carlos, have refrained from making their solidarity for human rights and the injustices being visited upon so many black people in their home country?
That would be a "no”.
The protest made on the men’s 200m podium by the respective gold and bronze medallists Smith and Carlos has become iconic.
But despite the dire warnings of bans from the then IOC President Avery Brundage, who later referred to the incident as "the nasty demonstration against the American flag by negroes", several other black US athletes continued in the same vein.
As they had taken to the podium, Smith and Carlos were both shoeless but wearing black socks - something they later explained was to represent black poverty.
Smith wore a black scarf around his neck to represent black pride, Carlos had his tracksuit top undone to show solidarity with all blue-collar workers in the US and also wore a necklace of beads which he subsequently described as being "for those individuals that were lynched, or killed and that no-one said a prayer for, that were hung and tarred".
As the Star-Spangled Banner anthem played, both men bowed their heads and raised their gloved fist.
All three on the podium, including Australian silver medallist Peter Norman, who had been a critic of the former White Australia policy, wore Olympic Project for Human Rights (OPHR) badges.
When they left the podium they were booed by the crowd. Smith later said: "If I win, I am American, not a black American. But if I did something bad, then they would say I am a negro. We are black and we are proud of being black. Black America will understand what we did tonight."
The US National Olympic Committee (NOC) was leaned upon by Brundage to suspend the athletes and send them home.
US athletes were warned in Mexico: "A repetition of such incidents... would warrant the imposition of the severest penalties at the disposal of the US Olympic Committee."
But, guess what? Subsequent protests of varying degrees did take place at those Games.
Before his gold-medal-winning run, Evans was said to be planning to withdraw from the 400m final after it was announced that Smith and Carlos would be kicked out of the Games over their Black Power salute.
However, Smith and Carlos came to his room in the Olympic Village and convinced him to run.
Evans stood atop an all-American podium with Larry James and Ron Freeman, and all three wore black berets, a piece of uniform associated with the Black Panther Party.
They removed them for the national anthem, knowing they had to still run the relay later in the Games.
Bob Beamon, who broke the world record in the long jump, wore black socks pulled up high at his ceremony, while fellow US bronze medallist Ralph Boston went barefoot and said: "they're going to have to send me home too". He was not sent home.
As a postscript, the US women's 4x100m relay team publicly dedicated their own gold medals to Carlos and Smith.
Wyomia Tyus, the US sprinter who followed up her Tokyo 1964 triumph with victory in Mexico four years later, told NBC Sports how, at a US team meeting, other black athletes felt the message was "you can do whatever you want - what they have done, that said everything right there".
Tyus herself wore black running shorts in that relay final, where she ran the anchor leg as the US won in a world record of 42.88sec, although she adds that she was not sure anyone had noticed.
But when the team were asked afterwards by the press what they thought about the Smith and Carlos protest, Tyus replied: "What is there to think? They made a statement.
"We all know that we're fighting for human rights. That's what they stood for on the victory stand - human rights for everyone, everywhere. And to support that and to support them, I'm dedicating my medal to them. I believe in what they did."
In a 1999 HBO documentary, Smith reflected: "We were not Antichrists.
"We were just human beings who saw a need to bring attention to the inequality in our country.
"I don't like the idea of people looking at it as negative. There was nothing but a raised fist in the air and a bowed head, acknowledging the American flag - not symbolising a hatred for it."
Evans was a Fulbright scholar in sociology at San Jose State University, where his rivalry with fellow student and athlete Smith was so intense that their coach could not let them practice together.
And yet these two were founding members of the OHPR.
In an interview with Dave Zirin, news editor of Prince George’s Post in Maryland, that appeared in 2004 on CounterPunch , Evans recalls that he became radicalised when he went to London in 1966 to run in a competition, and attended a meeting organised to oppose South African apartheid at which, among others, Sam Ramsamy, later to become President of the South African NOC, was present.
In the autumn of 1967 he was among those who established the OHPR when nobody was willing to rent any of the black students at San Jose housing close to the university.
Before long the OHPR became a vehicle for expressing wider dissatisfaction with civic inequalities in the United States and espoused a boycott of the impending Mexico Olympics by black athletes - even though Evans added they always felt and hoped such a course of action would not be agreed upon. It was a standpoint that enabled them to gain leverage for their views.
Evans told Zirin about his reaction to seeing Smith and Carlos protesting: "I said 'That’s a good idea.' I was also thinking about what Avery Brundage would do to them. Brundage was asked about the black athletes - about what would he do if we protested at the Games. He said, 'We would send those boys right home. They should be lucky we allow them to be on the team.'
"He never should have said that because we started having meetings again after that and we said we are going to have a protest at the Olympic Games."
More than half a century later, similar opposing forces are in play going into an Olympic Games. Over the last few years sport's interface with US social movements such as Black Lives Matter, widely espoused by the act of "taking a knee" which was historically pioneered within the National Football League (NFL) realm by Colin Kaepernick when the US national anthem was played.
"I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of colour," Kaepernick said after making his first protest before playing for the San Francisco 49ers.
"To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way."
Kaepernick added that he would continue to protest until he felt like "the American flag represents what it's supposed to represent".
This movement was supercharged by the shocking death in 2020 of George Floyd, for which, earlier this month, former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted on charges of second- and third-degree murder.
The issue has polarised opinion among athletes and sports administrators alike.
Last December, World Athletics President Sebastian Coe gave his President's Award to Smith, Carlos and - posthumously - Norman, saying: "The bravery, dignity and morality of these three men continues to inspire athletes from all sports 50 years on."
Three days later the IOC President Thomas Bach, who in October had warned that the Games should not become "a marketplace of demonstrations", suggested Coe’s support for such a protest contravened his own organisation’s rules on political and religious marketing.
In response, a spokesperson for World Athletics said the organisation "do not believe gestures against racism can be defined as political or religious marketing".
Earlier this month Dobromir Karamarinov, Interim President of European Athletics, made clear his organisation's opposition to protests being made on the podium, adding: "Rules are rules."
Britain’s Adam Gemili this week was widely reported as vowing to take a knee in support of Black Lives Matter if he wins an Olympic medal in Tokyo - and warned the IOC that "all hell will break loose" if it tries to ban athletes from protesting on the podium.
The British sprinter also accused the IOC of double standards for hailing athletes who made Black Power salutes at the Mexico Games in 1968 while preventing modern-day competitors from doing the same.
"For sure I would be happy to take a knee if I was successful at the Olympics and I had that opportunity," said Gemili, European 200m champion in 2014 and fourth at the Rio 2016 Olympics two years later, as well as being part of the British 4x100m team that won world gold in 2017.
"I would definitely protest. The fact the IOC is telling athletes 'No, you can’t do it' is only going to make people more angry. If the opportunity came, I wouldn’t shy away from it."
Although the IOC has yet to reveal what sanctions rule-breakers will face in Tokyo, Gemili added: "I don’t think you can ban an athlete for protesting. And if they do all hell would break loose and it could go south and sour very quickly. They will be very naïve to even try to do that."
At the press conference convened ahead of today’s season-opening Diamond League meeting in Gateshead in north-east England, 100m rivals Dina Asher-Smith, the home world 200m champion, and 21-year-old US athlete Sha'Carri Richardson, who tops this year’s rankings with a time of 10.72, were both asked to comment on Gemili’s statement, and the issue involved.
Their responses were revealing - and broadly congruent.
"Oh, I didn’t know Adam had said that," Asher-Smith said. "Go on, Adam! Yeah, I think it is a shame that these restrictions have been put in place, especially when you consider what is happening in the world right now. Even in situations this week in many different countries. It is a shame, but I feel like if you feel like you, kind of… I don’t want to incite anything. But yeah, I think it is a shame."
Richardson responded: "I am a big advocate for Black Lives Matter. I’m a proud black woman. Part of why I’m so successful and I'm so motivated is because of my black history. And I definitely want to be part of that.
“[The IOC] has said their opinions and they said their restrictions but at the end of the day we as people, we have our own beliefs, we have our own rights. And they have to know when the right time is to stand for something right.
"You have to know, when you have that platform how to use it in the correct way. So I’m definitely going to show the world that Black Lives Matter. Forever and always.”
The complexity of the issue was clear this week from the reaction of Marnie McBean, three times an Olympic rowing champion for Canada, who was appointed in July 2019 as the Chef de Mission for the team at the upcoming Tokyo Games.
When McBean took up her current role she said one of her main objectives at Tokyo 2020 would be to create a safe and welcoming environment for Team Canada members to speak openly about their passions outside sport.
"It is our role as the Mission Team to do everything we can so that when an athlete’s Olympic competition begins they are in peak condition," McBean said.
"Athletes shouldn’t arrive to their field of play exhausted and stressed from trying to negotiate social and cultural barriers.
"Our team is going to be a safe and open space for self-expression and dialogue.
"We make ourselves stronger when we include everyone, consider all perspectives and weigh critical feedback."
Reflecting upon the question of Rule 50 this week, she told insidethegames: "I remember coming into this role and being asked what I wanted as the Chef. And I said I want Canadian athletes to be able to go to the Games and be their authentic self.
"It’s not simple is it? Our Athletes' Commission got together and they were in agreement with results from the global results from the Olympic Athletes' Commission that they wanted to have opportunities but they didn’t want those opportunities to disrupt the field of play.
"And they were clear in wanting to know what was the difference between a protest and a demonstration, and how do you get to say what is important to you.
"And I recognise that while the majority of athletes have voted this way, it has often been the athletes who are in the minority who need to ring some sort of bell to draw awareness to a situation.
"I think it’s going to be the hardest thing to do as a Chef de Mission to respect an athlete’s right to choose if they choose to break a rule. That’s going to be heartbreaking, but I am going to have respect what they’ve done.
"These are the rules of sport. But it’s going to come back to the Canadian public, whether the Canadian public is going to go 'You know what? I’m proud of that athlete for making that stand' or feels 'That wasn’t the place to do it.'
"We are a team of Canadian athletes, which makes them Canadians first, and they have, I believe, all their human rights. But they are athletes also and they understand the rule."