Raven Saunders makes 'X' protest gesture during Olympics medal ceremony

Raven Saunders, a Team USA athlete, has taken the first podium protest at the Tokyo Olympics. She won a silver medal in women's shot-put final.Saunders, who was standing alongside bronze medalist Valerie Adam and Lijiao Gong from Team China in the medal ceremony, crossed her arms in an "X". Later, she explained that the gesture represented "the intersection of all oppressed people meeting.""Shout out all my Black people. Shout out for all members of my LGBTQ community. After winning, Saunders stated that she wanted to shout out to all those who are dealing with mental illness.This is the first ever on-podium protest to take place at the Tokyo Olympics. The International Olympic Committee (IOC), changed the rules before the Games. This included relaxing Rule 50 which prohibited athletes from protesting.Press conferences are open to athletes to voice their opinions and make gestures on the field. However, they must not disrupt other competitors and be respectful. Protests at the medal stand are still prohibited.Saunders competes at the Tokyo Olympic Stadium shot put final. Credit: Fred Lee/Getty ImagesSaunders was vocal about her mental illness after she took time off from competing in 2018 to attempt suicide. She tweeted in 2020: "If it wasn't for sending a message to an old therapist, I wouldn't be here."Saunders shared her Sunday victory via Instagram. If you're Black, LGBTQIA+, or mentally Struggling. This one's for you. S/O to all my fighters.(L-R: Silver medalist Raven Saunders from Team United States, Lijiao Gong, Team China's gold medalist, and bronze medalist Valerie Adams, Team New Zealand, pose with their medals. Credit: Ryan Pierse/Getty ImagesThe IOC stated that it was "looking into" Saunders’ demonstration.The United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee conducted its own review and stated that it had determined that Raven Saunders peaceful expression of support for racial and socio justice at the end of the ceremony was respectful to her competitors and did no violation of our rules regarding demonstration."The USOPC stated that Team USA is "governed" by the Olympic Charter and the rules of the IOC for Tokyo 2020.As the IOC has not yet disclosed the possible penalties for podium demonstrations during the medal ceremonies, the consequences of breaking the rules are unknown.Saunders, following the protest, tweeted: "Let them attempt to take this medal."