American silver medalist shot-putter Raven Saunders delivered a political demonstration at the Olympics podium on Sunday in the latest protest at the Tokyo games.
During the photo op at her medals ceremony, Saunders stepped off the podium, lifted her arms above her head and formed an “X’ with her wrists.
“It’s the intersection of where all people who are oppressed meet,” she said when asked what her protest meant.
Saunders, who is openly gay, has often wondered if the Olympics could live up to the mission of diversity.
“To be me. To not apologize,” she said in a wide-ranging conversation after her second-place finish. “To show younger people that no matter how many boxes they try to fit you in, you can be you and you can accept it. People tried to tell me not to do tattoos and piercings and all that. But look at me now, and I’m poppin’.”
Moments after Saunders’s protest, American fencer Race Imboden was also seen with a circled X written on his hand as he went to the podium at a different venue after the U.S. men’s foil team beat Japan in the bronze medal match.
Saunders’s protest comes after a handful of other Olympians demonstrated during the summer games, including players for the U.S. women’s soccer team, who knelt in protest of racism and discrimination ahead of a game with Sweden last month.
“It’s an opportunity for us to continue to use our voices and use our platforms to talk about the things that affect all of us intimately in different ways,” player Megan Rapinoe said after their 3-0 loss to Sweden.
Female British and Chilean soccer players also knelt ahead of a game on July 21 to protest racial inequality.
“We felt strongly as a group that we wanted to show support for those affected by discrimination and equality,” Britain captain Steph Houghton said. “It was a proud moment because the Chile players took the knee too to show how united we are as sport.”
Players for Australia’s women’s soccer team also posed with an Indigenous flag and linked arms last month while their New Zealand counterparts knelt last in protest of racism.
The acts of protests come after the International Olympic Committee had relaxed rules banning demonstrations ahead of Tokyo Olympics, but IOC chief Thomas Bach added that athletes could not protest on the medal stand.
“The podium and the medal ceremonies are not made … for a political or other demonstration. They are made to honor the athletes and the medal winners for sporting achievement and not for their private [views],” Bach said last month.
He threatened sanctions for athletes who protest on the podium, but it was unclear what those sanctions would be.
Other forms of protests have also made a showing at the games, with some members of the U.S. men’s fencing team donning pink face masks on Friday in an apparent protest of teammate Alen Hadzic, who has been accused of sexual misconduct. While a French boxer also sat on the Olympic ring apron in protest on Sunday, after a referee disqualified him for intentionally headbutting a British opponent.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.