IOC suspends inquiry into Saunders’ gesture

The International Olympic Committee has suspended an investigation into American Raven Saunders’ gesture on the podium after the athlete’s mother died.

Saunders took silver in the women’s shot put on Sunday and marked the occasion by making an ‘X’ symbol with her arms. She said “it’s the intersection of where all people who are oppressed meet.”

The United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee said Tuesday they felt the gesture was “respectful of her competitors and did not violate our rules related to demonstration.”

Despite the USOPC’s blessing, the IOC said Tuesday it was still looking into whether the gesture had contravened its Rule 50.2 of the Olympic Charter, which prohibits athletes from “every kind of demonstration or propaganda, whether political, religious, or racial” in the Olympic field of play or on the podium.

But following the news of the death of Saunders’ mother, the IOC called a halt to its proceedings.

“The IOC obviously extends its condolences to Raven and her family,” IOC spokesman Mark Adams said Wednesday. “Given these circumstances, the process at the moment is fully suspended.”

“We appreciate the empathy shown toward Raven by the IOC during this difficult time,” the USOPC said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the IOC was also looking into two potential violations of Rule 50.2 from China. Two of their athletes, Bao Shanju and Zhong Tianshi, won gold in the track cycling and wore pin badges depicting Mao Zedong on the podium.

The Chinese Olympic Committee has informed the IOC it has told their athletes to not wear these pin badges going forward, but the IOC is still investigating the situation.

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