World Athletics president Lord Coe believes athletes should have the right to make gestures of political protest during the Olympic Games.
Current Olympic rules forbid any kind of “demonstration” or “political, religious or racial propaganda”.
Against the backdrop of the Black Lives Matter movement there have been calls for the rules to be changed.
“I have been very clear; if an athlete wishes to take a knee on a podium, then I am supportive of that,” said Coe.
“Athletes are a part of the world and they want to reflect the world they live in. For me, that is perfectly acceptable.”
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has already said it will open dialogue with athletes on the issue.
Coe, the head of athletics’ world governing body, made his comment during a tour of the National Stadium in Tokyo.
The facility was newly built for the 2020 summer Olympic Games, rearranged to take place in Tokyo from 23 July next year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Coe said his visit was not to receive “any assurances” over the rescheduled Games, adding: “There may have to be some adaptations, there may have to be some differences, but I am absolutely convinced that even under those circumstances it will still be a fantastic Games.”
Organizers of the Tokyo Games announced measures to cut costs by £220m on Wednesday.