AP Photo/Francisco Seco
United States shot-put athlete Raven Saunders used her moment on the medal podium at the Tokyo Olympics to make a political statement.
After winning silver in the women’s shot put event on Sunday, Saunders stepped off the podium during the medal ceremony to raise her arms over her head and form an X sign.
Asked by reporters about the gesture, Saunders said it is “the intersection of where all people who are oppressed meet.”
She also said it was meant to “show younger people that no matter how many boxes they try to fit you in, you can be you and you can accept it.”
Per USA Today‘s Christine Brennan, International Olympic Committee spokesman Mark Adams said the organization is “in contact” with the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee about the situation.
The protest gesture made by Saunders could be considered a violation of IOC Rule 50 that states, “No kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas.”
Saunders has been open about her mental health, including being diagnosed with depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress syndrome.
The 25-year-old has also spoken out about and against the racism and homophobia she has endured as a gay Black woman, particularly when she encountered it as a student-athlete at the University of Mississippi.
A three-time NCAA champion in the shot put, Saunders is competing in her first Olympics this year. She finished second to China’s Lijiao Gong with a top throw of 19.79 meters.