After winning a silver medal in shot put, Raven Saunders raised her arms in an “X” to show solidarity with oppressed people everywhere.
The Charleston, South Carolina native told The Associated Press the “X” represented “the intersection of where all people who are oppressed meet.”
“Shoutout to all my Black people, shout out to all my LGBTQ community, shout out to everybody dealing with mental health. Because at the end of the day, we understand that it’s bigger than us, and it’s bigger than the powers that be,” Saunders said.
She was open with reporters about being Black, identifying as part of the LGTBQ community, and battling depression and told reporters after winning the silver medal that she wants to open up conversations for people who “don’t have a platform to speak up for themselves.”
Before the start of the Tokyo Olympics the games’ governing body relaxed its anti-protest rule, Rule 50, though it reiterated that athletes were prohibited from protesting on the medal stand.
“The podium and the medal ceremonies are not made …. for a political or other demonstration,” IOC chief Thomas Bach told the Financial Times last month. “They are made to honor the athletes and the medal winners for sporting achievement and not for their private [views].”
Bach has reportedly threatened to sanction athletes who protest on the medal stand, though it’s unclear what the penalties would be.
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