Raven Saunders delayed her weekend political demonstration to be respectful of the Chinese national anthem.
The American shot-putter crossed her arms in the shape of an X in the first podium demonstration at the Tokyo Olympics shortly after receiving her silver medal.
But Ms. Saunders said in an interview Monday with the New York Times that she waited until after the gold medal had been awarded to China’s Gong Lijiao and “March of the Volunteers” had been played.
“I wanted to be respectful of the national anthem being played,” she told the Times.
The X-gesture, which she said represents unity among all oppressed people, was not spontaneous but had been planned, Ms. Saunders said.
She told the Times that a group text message several weeks ago among athletes in multiple sports planned the demonstration.
The group collectively decided that the X would be their symbol. More demonstrations like hers will come, she said.
Ms. Saunders’ X, and presumably any others, has led to friction between the International Olympic Committee, which prohibits demonstrations on the podium or during competition, and U.S. Olympic officials.
The IOC said Sunday night that national Olympic committees must punish their athletes who violate the rules. But officials with the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee have said they will not penalize expressions of free speech as long as it does not express what they consider hatred.