Aug 5, 2021 - Sports

IOC suspends investigation into Raven Saunders' gesture

Photo of an athlete holding up a shot put

Photo: Li Yibo/Xinhua via Getty Images

The International Olympic Committee has suspended its investigation into American shot-putter Raven Saunders' podium demonstration after her mother unexpectedly died Tuesday.

Why it matters: The IOC launched a probe after Saunders placed her hands above her head in an "X" formation while on the podium. The demonstration intended to symbolize support for "oppressed" people, she said.

  • Athletes are barred from exhibiting "[any] kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda" in any Olympic site, including playing fields and podiums.

Details: Saunders' mother had been in Orlando attending Olympic watch parties with the shot-putter's younger sister. Her cause of death remains unknown.

  • "My mama was a great woman and will forever live through me," tweeted Saunders, who said she would take a social media break to care for her family and her own mental health.

What they're saying: "The IOC obviously extended its condolences to Raven and her family," IOC spokesperson Mark Adams said in a statement to NPR. "Given these circumstances, the process at the moment is fully suspended."

The big picture: The athlete, who won silver on Sunday, told the New York Times earlier this week that U.S. athletes had planned "for weeks" to demonstrate against oppression.

Go deeper