The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee said that shot putter Raven Saunders’ gesture during the medals ceremony did not break its rules against demonstrations.
How we got here: Saunders lifted her arms above her head to form an “X” with her wrists after she received a silver medal at the Olympics on Sunday. The winner was the Chinese national Gong Lijiao.
Saunders made the gesture after the Chinese national anthem had been played for the winner and after she stepped off the podium during the photo-op session. She then told reporters the symbol was “for oppressed people.”
“It’s the intersection of where all people who are oppressed meet,” the athlete explained to The Associated Press.
Saunders even dared the IOC to “try and take this medal.”
“Let them try and take this medal. I’m running across the border even though I can’t swim,” she wrote.
Why it matters? The I.O.C. does not allow competitors to demonstrate on the podium or during competition.
The response: Mark Adams, the chief spokesman for the International Olympic Committee said during a press briefing on Monday morning that the IOC was in contact with the USOPC regarding the episode, as well as the World Athletics, track and field’s international governing body.
“We want to fully understand what is going on with the matter and take it from there,” Adams said.
The USOPC confirmed it was “in discussion” with the two organizations but said it does not believe that Saunders broke any rules.
“As with all delegations, Team USA is governed by the Olympic Charter and rules set forth by the IOC for Tokyo 2020,” the USOPC said in a statement, Reuters reported.
“Per the USOPC’s delegation terms, the USOPC conducted its own review and determined that Raven Saunders’ peaceful expression in support of racial and social justice that happened at the conclusion of the ceremony was respectful of her competitors and did not violate our rules related to demonstration.”
World Athletics President Seb Coe has previously said that did not expect the federation to support sanctions against athletes for demonstrating.
“I’m reluctant to discourage athletes from expressing their views, and I sense that the current generation is more willing to speak out than some previous generations were,” Coe said.
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