US Medalist Raven Saunders Does Protest Gesture at Podium

The 'X' arms likely violated Olympic rules, according to reports
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 2, 2021 1:44 AM CDT
US Medalist Raven Saunders Does Protest Gesture at Podium
Raven Saunders, of the United States, poses with her silver medal on women's shot put at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Sunday, Aug. 1, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan.   (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

After Raven Saunders won a silver medal at the Tokyo Olympics on Sunday, the US shot-putter raised her arms in an 'X' above her head at the podium following the medal ceremony. The 25-year-old told the AP the X symbolizes "the intersection of where all people who are oppressed meet." The gesture likely violated Olympic rules against demonstrations at the Games, though it's not clear what consequences might arise, NBC News reports. "Let them try and take this medal. I’m running across the border even though I can’t swim," Saunders tweeted Sunday.

Saunders, whose nickname is "Hulk," spoke openly about her recent mental health struggles and her journey as a Black, openly gay athlete. "Shout out to all my Black people, shout out to all my LBGTQ community, shout out to everybody dealing with mental health," she said. "Because at the end of the day, we understand that it’s bigger than us, and it’s bigger than the powers that be." As the New York Times reports, a US fencer may have protested in a similar fashion (with an "X" on his hand), and a showdown may be coming between the International Olympic Committee and US officials, who do not punish athletes for exercising free speech rights as long as no hate is expressed. It's not yet clear what action either group might take. (More 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games stories.)

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