A U.S. athlete formed an “X” with her wrists and raised it above her head after accepting her silver medal in shot put at the Tokyo Olympics on Sunday.
Raven Saunders said she made the gesture during a photo op after the medal ceremony to support oppressed groups of people.
“X is the cross-section, the intersection of where all people who are oppressed meet,” Saunders explained. “For me, I represent so many wonderful communities who are constantly being held down all around the world. I just want to stand up for them, let them know that there’s somebody who represents them, looks like them, who understands the things they’re going through, who’s willing to use their platform to speak up.”
When a reporter asked the 25-year-old silver medalist which communities she was referring to, she said the LGBTQIA+ community, the Black community, and people dealing with mental health issues.
“I see you, I’m here for you, and I’m standing with you,” Saunders said.
The International Olympic Committee is reportedly looking into whether or not the gesture breached the rules that ban protests on medal podiums.
However, the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee said in a statement obtained by Reuters and USA Today that it determined Saunder’s “peaceful expression in support of racial and social justice” was respectful to her competitors and didn’t violate its rules related to demonstrations.
It’s worth noting that Saunders made the gesture after the medals were handed out and following the playing of the Chinese national anthem for gold medal winner Gong Lijiao.
Saunders has commented on the reports about her gesture, tweeting “Let them try and take this medal. I’m running across the border even though I can’t swim.”