The International Olympic Committee is looking into the gesture Raven Saunders made after she took silver in the women’s shot put.
During the photo op at her medals ceremony Sunday night, Saunders stepped off the podium, lifted her arms above her head and formed an “X” with her wrists. Asked what that meant, she explained: “It’s the intersection of where all people who are oppressed meet.”
She later told NBC it was a show of support for the “the LGBTQIA community, the Black community, people who are dealing with mental health issues, I see you, I’m here for you, and I’m standing with you.”
Athletes have been given scope to express their socio-political views at the Games as part of a loosening of Rule 50.2 in the Olympic Charter, which has long forbidden athletes from “every kind of demonstration or propaganda, whether political, religious, or racial, in the Olympic areas.”
Last month, the IOC changed the guidelines, allowing competitors greater freedom of expression away from the field of play. But, athletes still can’t make a political statement during competition or on the podium.
The IOC is now looking into whether Saunders’ gesture has breached these guidelines.
“We are in contact obviously with the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee,” Mark Adams, spokesperson of the International Olympic Committee said Monday. “We are also in touch with World Athletics. We are not surprisingly looking into the matter and we now will consider our next steps.”
When pushed further on the matter, Adams continued: “What I would say is that we try to respect the views of all the athletes and we have given them in consultation with them more opportunities to express themselves.
“As you all know, athletes are free to express themselves, its freedom of expression at press conferences, on social media, in the mixed zone. That remains the same. We created a possibility before sport begins for people to make protest. But one thing we have noted in the survey we did [of] 3,500 athletes, including athletes from the United States, is that in all of the people we asked in that extensive survey we asked, they all wanted to protect the field of play. And that was found when we questioned athletes from all around the world — not just the U.S., but Europe, Asia, China, everywhere.
“It would be good if everyone could respect the views of athletes but in terms of this specific one, frankly my view and my decision is not that important. We will look at it and we are in contact with World Athletics and the USOPC.”
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
International Olympic Committee looking into ‘X’ gesture made by U.S. women’s shot-putter Raven Saunders
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