The International Olympic Committee just needs to leave Raven Saunders alone.
After winning a silver medal in the women’s shot put competition, Saunders made a statement that reverberated across the globe. On the medal podium, she crossed her arms above her head to make an “X,” a message in support of all people oppressed.
Now, the International Olympic Committee is “looking into” the protest by the 25-year-old LGBTQ athlete from South Carolina.
The IOC is in contact with World Athletics, which is the international governing body for the sport, and they are also in contact with the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC), IOC spokesman Mark Adams said in a news conference on Monday.
The IOC’s rule 50 originally prohibited protests, but it was altered last month to allow demonstrations from athletes as long as they don’t disrupt competition.
“As with all delegations, Team USA is governed by the Olympic Charter and rules set forth by the IOC for Tokyo 2020,” the USOPC said in a statement sent 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.”
Saunders is a Black woman who is openly gay. Sadly, she probably understands all too well the detrimental effects of oppression as a member of three marginalized groups.
It was clear that this moment meant a great deal to Saunders, not just because of her sacrifices, but because of the sacrifices of so many who have been oppressed. She represents all of us with her courage to speak up.
“I feel amazing, because I know I’m going to inspire so many people,” Saunders said. “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.”
Saunders joked on Twitter about the repercussions she could receive from the IOC.
The IOC needs to have some common sense on this one and let Saunders be. What she did wasn’t disruptive and her message needed to be delivered to the world.
Shoutout to Saunders for speaking up and being a representative for the oppressed.