2020 Tokyo Olympics: US Fencing Athlete Displays ‘X’ on Hand During Medal Ceremony in Solidarity with Protesting Athletes

by Chris Haney

On Monday, American fencer Race Imboden had an “X” drawn on his hand during his team’s medal ceremony. He has now explained that it was a sign of solidarity with other U.S. protesting athletes at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Following the U.S. fencing team’s bronze medal win, Imboden silently protested an Olympics rule pertaining to political demonstrations. Team USA beat Japan 45-31 in the men’s foil event. As the team took the podium, cameras captured Imboden’s right hand with a circle and an X drawn inside of it. On Tuesday, the fencer explained the symbol and why he drew it on in a Twitter post.

“The X is a symbol of solidarity, Imboden began his tweet. “Some of the athletes communicated and decided upon this symbol to show solidarity for each other and support the oppressed.”

“For me I personally wore the symbol as a demonstration against rule 50,” he continued. “In support of athletes of color, ending gun violence, and all the athletes who wish to use their voice on the platform they’ve earned. I also wish to draw attention to the hypocrisy of the IOC, and all of the organizations who profit so immensely off the athletes and have yet to hear their call for change.”

IOC Relaxes Protest Rules at 2020 Tokyo Olympics

American shot-put silver medalist Raven Saunders protested during her own recent medal ceremony. While at the podium following her 2020 Tokyo Olympics event, she raised her arms above her head and crossed her wrists in an X symbol. Imboden stood in solidarity with Saunders, and called out Rule 50 of the Olympic Charter.

“No kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas,” the policy reads. “Violations of that rule could result in ‘disqualification’ or ‘withdrawal’ of the accreditation of the person or delegation concerned.”

The IOC went easy on protesting athletes during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and relaxed the enforcement of the rule. In fact, the committee is allowing protests prior to official events. However, athletes are still not allowed to demonstrate while on the stand during medal ceremonies.

Recently, the IOC revealed they’d be investigating Saunders’ medal ceremony protest. However, following the death of the shot-put silver medalist’s mother yesterday, the committee will not pursue the investigation further.

Raven Saunders Opens Up About ‘X’ Arm Gesture

During an interview with TODAY on Monday, Raven Saunders revealed further details about her X arm gesture. The Charleston, South Carolina native explained why she chose the gesture. She said many athletes at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics came together to decide on the specifics of the protest.

“So the X, um, for a lot of the athletes we talked about kind of what was going to be our stance. And what do you, what do we stand for,” Saunders said. “And X pretty much represents the intersection of where all people who are oppressed meet.”

The silver medalist went on to share further details about her personal life and how it pertains to the X protest.

“Um, I’m a black female. I’m queer,” Raven Saunders said. “And I talk about mental health awareness. I deal with depression, anxiety, and PTSD a lot. So me, personally, I represent being really at that intersection.”