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Probe into Raven Saunders’ gesture suspended following mother’s death

Raven Saunders, of the United States, poses with her silver medal on women's shot put at the...
Raven Saunders, of the United States, poses with her silver medal on women's shot put at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Sunday, Aug. 1, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)(Francisco Seco | AP)
Published: Aug. 4, 2021 at 2:34 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC/CNN) - The International Olympic Committee has suspended its probe on Raven Saunders’ podium protest following the death of her mother, according to a report by CNN.

After receiving her silver medal for women’s shot put at the Olympics on Sunday, and after the Chinese national anthem played for winner Gong Lijiao, Saunders lifted her arms above her head and formed an “X” with her wrists. Asked by The Associated Press what that meant, she explained: “It’s the intersection of where all people who are oppressed meet.”

CNN reported that the IOC was looking into the gesture as a potential breach of rules banning protests on medal podiums. On Wednesday, IOC spokesman Mark Adams said its action against Saunders is “fully suspended for the time being.”

“As many of you will have done, we heard the very sad news this morning of the passing of Raven Saunders’ mother,” IOC spokesman Mark Adams said in a CNN report. “The IOC obviously extends its condolences to Raven and her family. (The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee has) informed us that she is being looked after and will be returning home.”

Days after winning the silver medal, Saunder’s mother, Clarissa Saunders, died. Raven’s longtime coach said the elder Saunders was in Florida with Raven’s sister Tanzania. The coach says that is where the USATF brought them for Olympic Family watch parties.

On Wednesday, Saunders posted a video on her Facebook story stating that she was leaving Tokyo and heading to Orlando to bring her mother home, and thanked everyone for their condolences.

The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee says Saunders’ gesture during her medals ceremony “was respectful of her competitors and did not violate our rules related to demonstration.”

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