2020 Tokyo Olympics: IOC Suspends Probe Into Raven Saunders ‘X’ Protest Following Death in Family

by Josh Lanier

The International Olympic Committee said it would put its investigation into Raven Saunders on hold after she announced that her mom died only days after she won the silver medal in shot put. The IOC was looking into if Saunders had broken any rules when she held her arms in an “X” on the medal stand.

Saunders announced the death of Clarissa Saunders on Twitter Wednesday. The family has not released her cause of death.

Raven Saunders’ “X” gesture on the medal stand became a flashpoint at the Tokyo Olympics. The 25-year-old said it was meant to represent the “intersection of where all people who are oppressed meet.”

“For a lot of the athletes, we talked about what was going to be our stance and what do we stand for,” Saunders explained to the TODAY show. “And ‘X’ pretty much represents the intersection of where all people who are oppressed meet. I’m a Black female, I’m queer 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.”

The IOC said it wouldn’t rule out sanctioning Saunders for the gesture on Monday, according to the Daily Mail. The Olympics has thrown athletes out of the Olympic Village for protesting on the medal stand in the past.

However, the US Olympic Committee investigated Saunders‘ gesture and ruled she didn’t violate its guidelines.

“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.”

Raven Saunders Post Tribute to Mother

Raven Saunders wrote that her “heart and soul cries out” after the death of her mother. The Charleston, S.C. native posted a loving tribute to her mom on Instagram along with several videos of them together.

“My heart and my soul cries out (right now), but (I know) my mom is in a great space,” she wrote. “I’ll miss your love, your smile, your hugs, your advice, your jokiness, your random twerks 🤣. Our last conversation was one of the best ever. Mama, I know you love me with every fiber in your body. I’ll make sure Tanzy (Raven Saunder’s sister) is OK and taken care of. Your grandkids when born will know how wonderful and beautiful of a woman you were. Always and forever your Firstborn. ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️🥺🙏🏾 Mama and God please watch over and protect our family.”

Clarissa Saunders was able to watch her daughter win the silver medal Saturday, July 31, from a watch party in Orlando, Fla. She and several other Olympians’ family members traveled to Florida to watch the games together. They were unable to attend in person after the Tokyo Olympics banned spectators because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Not being there is a bummer,” Clarissa Saunders told, The State, a newspaper in Columbia, S.C. “But hey, we’re cheering from here … and she knows we’re here cheering for her.”