“I Had the World’s Attention:”- Raven Saunders Explains Her Controversial ‘X’ Sign at Tokyo Olympics 2020

Published 08/28/2021, 9:02 AM EDT
Tokyo 2020 Olympics – Athletics – Women’s Shot Put – Medal Ceremony – Olympic Stadium, Tokyo, Japan – August 1, 2021. Silver medallist, Raven Saunders of the United States gestures on the podium REUTERS/Hannah Mckay SEARCH “OLYMPICS DAY 11” FOR TOKYO 2020 OLYMPICS EDITOR’S CHOICE, SEARCH “REUTERS OLYMPICS TOPIX” FOR ALL EDITOR’S CHOICE PICTURES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY


Tokyo Olympics 2020 provided us with many unique moments. Lamont Marcell Jacobs took home the gold in the 100-meter race, the Jamaican trio dominated the women’s 100-meter race, Neeraj Chopra became the first Indian to win a gold medal in track and field. Moreover, the games provide a platform for athletes to express themselves. Notably, Raven Saunders from the United States of America won the silver medal in the women’s shot put. After winning the medal, she displayed an ‘X’ sign on top of the podium to support oppressed communities.

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The move got lauded by fellow athletes and fans all over the world.

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Raven Saunders on her infamous ‘X’ sign

Recently, she spoke to insider Chris Chavez about the sign displayed in Tokyo.

“So all of the athletes kind of determined that our sign would be, an X inside of a circle, pretty much representing the intersection of where all people who are oppressed meet. People with disabilities. People of different races. It was just a lot,” said Raven.

The move comes with much fanfare and has been appreciated from all corners of the world. It became a trend as many athletes draw an ‘X’ symbol on their hands to join in with the protest. Similarly, United States fencer, Race Imboden displayed the same protest by drawing the symbol on his hand. Saunders spoke about the moment being good for the sporting community.

“You saw some athletes actually drew it on themselves or on their uniforms at some point during the competition.”

“I actually did draw it on my arm during the competition.”

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Saunders made a statement

The IOC (International Olympic Committee) had relaxed its rules for expressing views by athletes in press conferences but still stood firm on their decision to not demonstrate symbolic gestures on the podium. Saunders thought otherwise.

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“It was really at that moment, I feel like while I had the world’s attention; It was time to make a statement. It wasn’t necessarily a protest. I feel like the Olympics, especially with their goal being unity. The Olympics at that moment is the perfect time to try and bring as many people together as we can.”

Tokyo 2020 Olympics – Athletics – Women’s Shot Put – Qualification – OLS – Olympic Stadium, Tokyo, Japan – July 30, 2021. Raven Saunders of the United States wearing a face mask in action REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

The freedom to express themselves is important for the welfare of athletes. Significantly, Simone Biles’ decision to withdraw from the gymnastics events was received well by fans. Prioritizing mental health issues is important as athletes face the burden of expectations and pressure from thousands of people.

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Saunders became an example for people after her demonstration on the podium. It shows character for the athlete to do it and its reception among fans and athletes has been heartwarming. In conclusion, the symbolic sign threw some limelight on the current issues in the world.

WATCH THIS STORY- Top 10 Greatest Moments in Olympic History

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Jacob Gijy

410 articles

Jacob Gijy is an NBA writer at EssentiallySports. Gijy finished his Masters in Counselling Psychology and worked in a hospital for 2 years before his passion for sports compelled him to find his way to sports journalism. A fan of the great Tim Duncan, he is always ready to pick up a debate with anyone who does not offer the centre the respect he deserves.

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