Fans of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics have been wondering what kind of consequences athletes might face for their protests during the games. But as for the U.S. shot putter Raven Saunders, she won’t be facing any.
Saunders, 25, had just won a silver medal. And in honor of oppressed people all over the world, she held up her arms in an “X” symbol during the Olympic medal ceremony. She told NBC that it represents “the intersection of where all people who are oppressed meet.”
Mark Adams, a spokesperson for the International Olympic Committee (IOC) told the media that they were looking further into Saunders’ gesture. However, after reviewing the situation, the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee came to the conclusion that she did not break any rules.
“As with all delegations, Team USA is governed by the Olympic Charter and rules set forth by the IOC for Tokyo 2020,” the USOPC said in a statement.
“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.”
Adams said that the Olympics is, in fact, an opportunity for athletes to express themselves on a world stage. With that in mind, it seems like Raven Saunders knew exactly what she was doing. And she didn’t break any rules while doing it.
“We try to respect the views of all the athletes; we’ve given them more opportunity to express themselves,” Adams said. “Freedom of expression in press conferences, social media, mixed zone. We’ve created possibilities before the sport begins to make protests.”
Raven Saunders is Using the 2020 Tokyo Olympics to be a Role Model
After winning herself a silver medal, Raven Saunders told reporters that she wants to be a role model for others like her. In the past, she has faced some criticism regarding her appearance.
“For me, just being who I always aspired to be. To be able to be me and not apologize for it. Show the younger generation that no matter what they tell you, no matter how many boxes they try to fit you in, you can be you,” she said. “People tell me not to do tattoos and piercings, but now look at me, I’m popping.”
The star shot putter has certainly come a long way from where she was just five years ago. She admitted that she has faced depression and suicidal thoughts. However, she has continued to work through her struggles. She has done so with the help of therapy, mediation, and by leaning on close friends.
“My message is to keep fighting. Keep pushing, keep finding value in yourself, in everything you do,” Saunders said after winning her silver medal.