Ian Patrick, FISM News
Raven Saunders, a U.S. athlete for women’s shot put in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, secured a silver medal in the event finals on Sunday. During the medal celebration, Saunders raised her arms to form an “X” while on the podium in a move which has piqued the interest of the International Olympic Committee.
The IOC had banned any form of demonstration whether it be racial, religious, or political while participating in the Games. This rule, otherwise known as Rule 50, exists so that people can instead focus “on athletes’ performances, sport, and the international unity and harmony that the Olympic Games seek to advance.”
Prior to Tokyo 2020, the rule was slightly amended to allow demonstrations on the field before the beginning of a competition as long as it is not specifically targeted at any certain people group or nation. The demonstration also cannot be disruptive to the Games or the individual competition in any way. A popular example of this amendment to the Rule involves multiple women’s soccer teams, including the U.S. team, kneeling before their respective competitions.
Saunders’ case, is different as she made the gesture during a medal ceremony which is expressly forbidden according to Rule 50 and could include a personal sanction, if the IOC deems she broke it. Saunders said the symbol was to represent “the intersection of where all people who are oppressed meet,” according to theGrio.
"I'm not just fighting for myself, I'm fighting for a lot more people."
— On Her Turf (@OnHerTurf) August 1, 2021
The United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) said that Saunders did not breach the rule. In a statement sent to Reuters, the USOPC said:
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.
The IOC is in contact with World Athletics, which is the international governing body for the sport, and the USOPC concerning their investigation.