Political tension and potential breach of rules add to track and field drama

TOKYO: Political tension played out around a Belarusian sprinter at the Tokyo Games while organisers said they were looking into a gesture by US shot putter Raven Saunders, a potential breach of rules banning protests on medal podiums.

But amid the politics, Puerto Rico’s Jasmine Camacho-Quinn dazzled in the 100m hurdles, and Miltiadis Tentoglou of Greece won the men’s long jump in a spectacular final leap.

The International Olympic Committee are looking into the gesture Saunders made after the shot put silver medallist raised her arms in an X above her head on Sunday, IOC spokesperson Mark Adams told a briefing. Saunders later said the gesture was intended as a sign of support for the downtrodden.

The IOC forbid overt political expression or interference, but last month relaxed their Rule 50 that prevents athletes from any protest to allow gestures on the field, provided athletes do so without disruption and with respect for fellow competitors.

However, the threat of sanctions remain if any protests are made on the podium during the medal ceremony.

“Let them try and take this medal,” Saunders said in a late night post on social media in an apparent reference to the IOC’s rules restricting protests.

Belarusian sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya who refused to board a flight after she said she was taken to the airport by her team against her wishes, entered the Polish embassy in Tokyo.

She was seeking asylum in Poland, according to a member of the local Belarusian community in touch with her.

The IOC said she was “safe and secure” in Tokyo. — Reuters

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