U.S. shot putter Raven Saunders is officially in the clear. Following her first-time Olympic win during the Women’s shot put competition, the athlete took to the podium where she raised her hands in an “X” formation in honor of oppressed people.
As a gay Black woman, Saunders knows all too well what it’s like to be oppressed by society.
“Shout out to all my Black people, shout out to all my LBGTQ community, shout out to everybody dealing with mental health,” the silver medalist shared after her big win.
“Because at the end of the day, we understand that it’s bigger than us, and it’s bigger than the powers that be.”
The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) shared in a statement that Saunders’ subtle protest was “respectful of her competitors and did not violate our rules related to the demonstration.”
This year the International Olympics Committee (IOC) banned athletes from protesting or issuing any “political, religious, or racial propaganda,” under Rule 50.
After further accessing the footage from Sunday’s event, the USOPC explained that “Raven Saunders’ peaceful expression in support of racial and social justice” happened “at the conclusion of the ceremony,” and did not warrant any potential penalization.
The IOC initially stood firm on their decision to uphold Rule 50 at this year’s Olympics but back in April, the committee tweaked the rule stating that while players were not allowed to engage in demonstration at the podium, that they were allowed to express their political views before the start of the competition.
The Committee expressed in guidelines that they wanted the focus at the Olympic Games to “remain on athletes’ performances, sport and the international unity and harmony that the Olympic Movement seeks to advance.”
Saunders took to Twitter on August 1 to respond to the backlash from critics, telling fans:
“Let them try and take this medal. I’m running across the border even though I can’t swim.”
What did you think of Raven’s peaceful protest? Was it too controversial in your opinion?