IOC Pause Investigation Into Podium Protest Gesture As Olympian’s Mother Dies

by : Hannah Smith on : 05 Aug 2021 09:50
IOC Pause Investigation Into Podium Protest Gesture As Olympian's Mother DiesPA

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) says it is suspending an investigation into USA athlete Raven Saunders, after she revealed her mother recently died.

Saunders had been subject to an investigation after she became the first athlete to make a protest gesture on the podium at Tokyo 2020.


After being awarded her silver medal in the women’s shotput, Saunders crossed her arms to make an X above her head, later telling NBC she had made the symbol to represent ‘the intersection of where all people who are oppressed meet’.

Raven Saunders (PA Images)PA Images

The IOC had initially said it was ‘examining’ whether Saunders’ gesture broke its rules banning political protest on the podium. However, in a tragic turn of events it has since been revealed that Saunders’ mother, Clarissa, passed away just days after celebrating her daughter’s silver medal.

‘Hoping (sic) off social media for a while to take care of my mental and my family. My mama was a great woman and will forever live through me,’ Saunders wrote in a post confirming the news.


‘My number one guardian angel 🙏🏾 I will always and forever love you,’ she added.

Following the news, the IOC confirmed that its investigation had been ‘fully suspended for the time being’.

According to CNN, Committee spokesperson Mark Adams said:


As many of you will have done, we heard the very sad news this morning of the passing of Raven Saunders’ mother.

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.

South Carolina news channel Live 5 News broke the news of Clarissa Saunders’ death on Tuesday, August 3, quoting Saunders’ coach as saying her mother had watched her daughter medal in her event on Friday, July 30.

If you have experienced a bereavement and would like to speak with someone in confidence contact Cruse Bereavement Care via their national helpline on 0808 808 1677.

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Hannah Smith

Hannah Smith is a London-based journalist at UNILAD. After studying History at UCL she worked for print publications on both sides of the pond, including spells at Harper's Magazine and The Times, before graduating with an MA in Newspaper Journalism from City, University of London.

Topics: Sport, Now, Olympics, Tokyo 2020


  1. CNN

    International Olympic Committee suspends its action on Raven Saunders' podium protest after her mother's death