U.S. fencer Race Imboden said that black “X” drawn on the back of his hand after winning the bronze medal in the men’s foil event was a “symbol of solidarity” and was meant to protest the Olympics rule on political demonstrations.
After Team USA defeated Japan 45-31 on Monday, Imboden took to the podium displaying the drawn-on “X.”
“The X is a symbol of solidarity. Some of the athletes communicated and decided upon this symbol to show solidarity for each other and support the oppressed,” he said in a tweet, referencing U.S. shot-put silver medalist Raven Saunders who crossed the wrists of her raised arms on the podium.
“For me I personally wore the symbol as a demonstration against rule 50. In support of athletes of color, Ending Gun violence, and all the athletes and who wish to use their voice on the platform they’ve earned.”
The policy Imboden was referencing is Rule 50 of the Olympic Charter.
“No kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venus or other areas,” the policy reads. “Violations of that rule could result in ‘disqualification’ or ‘withdrawal’ of the accreditation of the person or delegation concerned.”
The IOC relaxed its rule ahead of the Tokyo Games to allow athletes to protest before official competitions. But still barred any demonstrations on medal stands.
The IOC announced an investigation into Saunders’ podium protest, but on Wednesday the committee said it would be suspending the probe following her mother’s passing on Tuesday.
The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) defended the demonstration on Monday saying that it “was respectful of her competitors and did not violate our rules related to demonstration.”
Imboden echoed that sentiment in his tweet.
“I also wish to draw attention to the hypocrisy of the IOC, and all of the organizations who profit so immensely off the athletes and have yet to hear their call for change.”
Imboden was previously placed on probation for one year in 2019 by the USOPC for kneeling during a medal ceremony for the Pan Am Games, Reuters reported.
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