Race Imboden, a bronze medalist for the United States at the Olympics, says he posed on the podium with a black X symbol on his hand as a “demonstration.”
With a total score of 45 to 31, Imboden and his teammates won the bronze medal match in the men’s foil team event against Japan, with Imboden defeating Kyosuke Matsuyama 10 to 7.
“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,” Imboden tweeted on Wednesday.
“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 who wish to use their voice on the platform they’ve earned,” Imboden added.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has upheld the Rule 50 ban, which prohibits athletes from protesting or demonstrating during the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
The IOC changed the rule in July when it passed Rule 50.2, which allows athletes to express their opinions in mixed zones, press conferences, and interviews, among other places. Athletes are still not permitted to protest while standing on the podium.
Sanctions for athletes who break Rule 50 are handled on a case-by-case basis, according to IOC guidelines, “to ensure due process and proportionality of sanctions.”
“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,” added Imboden in his tweet.
“We try to respect the views of all the athletes; we’ve given them more opportunity to express themselves … We’ve created possibilities before the sport begins to make protests,” said IOC spokesman Mark Adams earlier this week.
Imboden previously demonstrated at the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima, Peru, by kneeling during the national anthem, later tweeting that the “shortcomings” of the United States — racism, the need for gun control, the mistreatment of immigrants, and “a President who spreads hate” — dimmed his pride in winning gold and bronze medals as a member of the US team.
Imboden is one of several athletes who have shown up for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Gwen Berry, a US hammer thrower, was introduced into the stadium on Tuesday with a clenched fist, later explaining that she was protesting social and racial injustice.
Shot-putter from the United States Raven Saunders, who won silver in the women’s shot put on Sunday, was the first to protest, crossing her arms in an X-shape on the podium.
However, after learning of Saunders’ mother’s death overnight, the IOC said its investigation into her actions is “fully suspended for the time being.”