American shot put silver medalist Raven Saunders’ flashing of an “X” sign while on the championship podium at the Tokyo Olympics on Sunday did not violate the governing body’s prohibition on certain protests, the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) announced on Monday.
Saunders “was respectful of her competitors and did not violate our rules related to demonstration,” the USOPC noted, though the organization also said officials were “in discussion” with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and World Athletics, the sports’ overarching governing authority, regarding her gesture.
Mark Adams, a spokesman for the IOC, told reporters Monday that the IOC has been in contact with the USOPC regarding her gesture.
“As with all delegations, Team USA is governed by the Olympic Charter and rules set forth by the IOC for Tokyo 2020,” said the U.S. organization, according to Reuters.
“Per the USOPC’s delegation terms, the USOPC conducted its own review and determined that Raven Saunders’ peaceful expression in support of racial and social justice that happened at the conclusion of the ceremony was respectful of her competitors and did not violate our rules related to demonstration,” the USOPC said.
While the IOC previously softened its stance regarding political statements, gestures and protests at the Games, the governing organization still has a ban on demonstrations during medal ceremonies, which Saunders’ gesture appeared to have clearly violated. But the USOPC has said that it won’t sanction any American athletes who engage in such demonstrations during podium ceremonies.
Saunders took to Twitter to dare the IOC to take her medal away.
“Let them try and take this medal. I’m running across the border even though I can’t swim,” she noted.
Let them try and take this medal. I’m running across the border even though I can’t swim 😂 https://t.co/B59N2v9KAk
— Raven HULK Saunders (@GiveMe1Shot) August 1, 2021
During her ceremony, Saunders, who is openly gay, stood with her arms crossed in an “X” manner. She later explained the meaning of the X: “It’s the intersection of where all people who are oppressed meet.”
She has pondered before whether the Olympics was going to be diverse enough.
“To be me. To not apologize,” she said after finishing with the silver medal. “To show younger people that no matter how many boxes they try to fit you in, you can be you and you can accept it. People tried to tell me not to do tattoos and piercings and all that. But look at me now, and I’m poppin’.”
Such ‘woke’ protests and political statements have likely contributed to millions of Americans tuning the Games out this year. The Opening Ceremony drew the fewest number of American viewers in 33 years, reports noted.
“Empty seats, zero atmosphere, diminished team numbers, local protests and a world distracted by coronavirus all combined to deliver just 16.7 million viewers for NBC’s four-hour long broadcast of the Tokyo Olympic Games opening ceremony on Friday,” Breitbart News added.
Some have criticized the woke gesturing and political posturing.
“People think I’m very harsh when I say this,” NFL great Hershel Walker told Fox News last month. “This is the United States of America, and if people don’t like the rules here — and there’s no doubt we can make some things better — but if people don’t like the rules here, why are you here?”
HBO’s “Real Time” host Bill Maher, who is a self-avowed liberal, also ripped the wokeness during his Friday program.
“New rule: Please don’t make the Olympics into the Oscars,” he said as he opened his monologue, going on to admit, however, that it was too late.
“Back in April when the Oscars aired, I commented that the theme of that evening was ‘we dare you to be entertained, lest your mind waver for a few hours from thinking about these sad things and bad people in the world.’ Well, thank God we found some of those bad people in the Olympics now and not a moment too soon,” he said.
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