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Citing death of Raven Saunders' mom, IOC pauses investigation into medals podium protest

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TOKYO – Given the unexpected death of U.S. shot putter Raven Saunders’ mother, the International Olympic Committee has paused its investigation into her demonstration on the medals podium.

Clarissa Saunders died Tuesday, two days after watching her daughter win a silver medal at the Tokyo Olympics. The cause of death is unknown.

“The IOC obviously extends its condolences to Raven and her family,” IOC spokesman Mark Adams said Wednesday. “Given these circumstances, the process at the moment is fully suspended.”

The medals ceremony was over but Saunders was still on the podium when she made an X symbol with her raised arms to call attention to “oppressed people.” The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee, which had already said it would not punish athletes for demonstrating so long as those protests did not express hate, defended Saunders. In a letter to the IOC, the USOPC pointed out that Saunders’ demonstration did not occur during the medals ceremony nor while the Chinese anthem played for gold medalist Gong Lijiao.

“We appreciate the empathy shown toward Raven by the IOC during this difficult time,” USOPC spokeswoman Kate Hartman said in a statement.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: After death of Raven Saunders' mom, IOC suspends probe into protest