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IOC investigating gesture made on podium by US shot putter Raven Saunders


Raven Saunders made the first podium protest of the Olympics Games as she expressed her support for oppressed communities after winning silver at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics

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Raven Saunders is being investigated by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) after making a gesture on the podium as she collected her silver medal.

The American shot putter, who is openly gay, made an ‘X’ sign with her arms held aloft above her head, symbolising the ‘intersection of where all oppressed people meet’.

The IOC banned athletes from making political gestures or protests on the podium at the games, however has permitted competitors to “express their views” at press conferences.

There has been no public outlining of the punishment that could arise from breaking such laws, and IOC spokesperson Mark Adams did not expand on whether or not there could be potential ramifications could be for Saunders.

Adams did note that the IOC were “in discussions with World Athletics and the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee”.








Raven Saunders is being investigated for making an ‘X’ gesture on the podium
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Image:

REUTERS)



With regards to the gesture itself, Saunders said afterwards that she wanted it to help “people all around the world who are fighting and don’t have the platform to speak up for themselves.”

Saunders has been a prominent advocate for the destigmatisation of mental health having been outspoken about her own struggles.

She also believes that the younger generations are more tolerant with regards to difference in sexuality, ethnicity and more than those before them.





“I really think that my generation really don’t care,” she said. “At the end of the day, we really don’t care. Shout out to all my black people. Shout out to all my LGBTQ community. Shout out to all my people dealing with mental health.

“At the end of the day, we understand it’s bigger than us and it’s bigger than the powers that be. We understand that there’s so many people that are looking up to us, that are looking to see if we say something or if we speak up for them.”

The 25-year-old also acknowledged the impact that pressure in elite sport can have on mental wellness, a topic of hot debate at these Olympics in light of Simone Biles’ decision to withdraw from multiple gymnastics finals.








Raven Saunders has been outspoken about mental health while developing a large fanbase for her superhero themed masks
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Saunders said: “It’s okay to be strong, and it’s okay not to be strong 100 percent of the time.

“It’s okay to be able to need people.”

Saunders has become something of a cult hero at the Olympics for her green and purple dyed hair and elaborate, superhero-themed face masks.

She has previously stated that she relates to the Incredible Hulk, as he too struggled with controlling his strength and power.

The American has previously cited Serena and Venus Williams as her inspiration, as she grew up watching them dominate tennis as “young black girls with beads in their hair, unapologetic”, and hopes that she herself can inspire young black people with her public visibility.

Saunders’ silver medal was won after she threw a distance of 19.79 metres. Gold was won by Gong Lijiao of China, while New Zealander Valerie Adams collected bronze in her fourth consecutive Olympics with silverware.









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