Tokyo Olympics: Why did US fencer Race Imboden draw an X on his hand?

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US fencer drew ‘X’ on hand to protest Olympic rule on demonstrations (Getty Images)
US fencer drew ‘X’ on hand to protest Olympic rule on demonstrations (Getty Images)

Fencer Race Imboden says the “X” drawn on the back of his hand after winning a bronze medal was to protest the Olympic rule on political demonstrations.

The Team USA athlete says he wore it on the podium as “a symbol of solidarity” after the Americans finished third in the men’s team foil event.

“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 explained on Twitter.

The move came after US shot-put silver medalist Raven Sanders raised her arms in an X on the podium as well.

“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.”

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The rule is part of the Olympic Charter, and officials relaxed it for Tokyo, allowing protests before the event but not on the podium.

“No kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas,” the policy states.

“Violations of that rule could result in ‘disqualification’ or ‘withdrawal’ of the accreditation of the person or delegation concerned.”

The International Olympic Committee had opened an investigation into the protest by Saunders, but suspended it following the death of her mother.

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Imboden, 28, also criticised the IOC for not listening to the athletes taking part in the Tokyo games.

“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,” he added.

The fencer, along with hammer thrower Gwen Berry, was placed on a 12-month probation in 2019, after kneeling during a medal ceremony at the Pan American Games.

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