April 19, 2024
Raven Saunders: IOC suspends its action on podium protest after her mother's death

Raven Saunders: IOC suspends its action on podium protest after her mother’s death

Saunders — a 25-year-old Black, LGBTQ athlete — raised her hands and crossed them to form an X when she was on a podium as she and other medal winners posed for photos. She had won a silver medal for women’s shot put Saturday.

She told NBC the symbol represents “the intersection of where all people who are oppressed meet.”

“My message is to keep fighting, keep pushing, keep finding value in yourself, find value in everything you do,” Saunders said after winning her medal.

IOC was looking into the gesture as a potential breach of rules banning protests on medal podiums.

Just days after winning her medal, Saunders said on social media that her mother, Clarissa Saunders, has died. The cause of death was not given nor was the date of her death.

During an IOC briefing Wednesday, 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,” Adams said. “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.”

In sharing the news of her mother’s death, Saunders said she was her “number one guardian angel.”

“(Hopping) off social media for a while to take care of my mental and my family,” she in the tweet. “My mama was a great woman and will forever live through me.”

“Our last conversation was one of the best ever. Mama I know you love me with every fiber in your body,” Saunders wrote in an Instagram post.
Clarissa Saunders was interviewed by CNN affiliate WCSC last week about watching her daughter compete in the Olympics from afar.

“Not being there is a little bummer, but hey, we’re cheering from here,” Clarissa Saunders told WCSC. “She knows we’re here cheering for her.”

CNN’s Homero De la Fuente, Ben Morse and Aya Elamroussi contributed to this report.