In an interview with NBC News, Saunders shared that the reason she raised her hands into an “X” symbol was to show the “intersection of where all people who are oppressed meet.”
Various current and past Team USA members have used the Olympic platform to voice their concerns on racial injustice and social justice in the country, including the well-known image of Tommie Smith and John Carlos in the 1968 Mexico City Olympics.
Saunders won a silver medal in the shot putting event at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, finishing with a distance of 19.79 meters, according to CNN.
Speaking to the media after the ceremony, Saunders said that she wants to be a “role model” for people who are Black and openly gay, telling people to just be themselves, CNN reported.
"For me, just being who I always aspired to be, to be able to be me and not apologize for it [and] show the younger generation that no matter what they tell you, no matter how many boxes they try to fit you in, you can be you," Saunders said.
This comes as International Olympic Committee (IOC) spokesperson Mark Adams told CNN that they are reviewing Saunders’s gesture at the podium and have contacted the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee on the matter, CNN reported.
"We try to respect the views of all the athletes; we've given them more opportunity to express themselves. Freedom of expression in press conferences, social media, mixed zone. We've created possibilities before the sport begins to make protests,” Adams said.
"But one thing we have noted is we did a survey with 3,500 athletes [and] all those who answered wanted to protect the field of play. It would be good if everyone could respect the views of athletes."
In response to the criticism received after her gesture, Saunders, who battled depression prior to the games, tweeted "Let them try and take this medal. I'm running across the border even though I can't swim."
Let them try and take this medal. I’m running across the border even though I can’t swim https://t.co/B59N2v9KAk— Raven HULK Saunders (@GiveMe1Shot) August 1, 2021