Updated Aug 2, 2021 - Sports

IOC "looking into" American Raven Saunders' Olympic podium gesture

Second-placed USA's Raven Saunders gestures on the podium with her silver medal after competing the women's shot put event during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games
Team USA's Raven Saunders gestures on the podium with her silver medal after competing in the women's shot put event during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo on Sunday. Photo: Ina Fassbender/AFP via Getty Images

The International Olympic Committee is "looking into" U.S. shot-putter Raven Saunders' gesture on the Tokyo Games podium after she won a silver medal, IOC spokesperson Mark Adams told reporters Monday.

Why it matters: Saunders told AP she placed her hands above her head in an "X" formation while on the podium to stand up for "oppressed" people. The IOC has banned protests during the Tokyo Games.

What she's saying: "Shout out to all my Black people, shout out to all my LBGTQ community, shout out to everybody dealing with mental health," said Saunders, who is black and openly gay, after taking the stand, per AP.

  • "Because at the end of the day, we understand that it’s bigger than us, and it’s bigger than the powers that be."
  • She told reporters after winning her silver medal, "I feel amazing, because I know I'm going to inspire so many people.
  • "About to inspire so many young girls, so many young boys, so many LGBTQ people, people who have battled suicide. So many people would have almost given up ... it's not just about me."

What to watch: The IOC is "in contact" with the World Athletics governing body and the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee on the matter in order to determine whether any further action will be taken, per Adams.

The big picture: China's Gong Lijiao won the gold medal in the women's shot put at Tokyo's Olympic Stadium and New Zealand's Valerie Adams claimed bronze.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with comment from Mark Adams.

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