Chinese Olympians investigated over Mao pins following gold medals
The International Olympic Committee is investigating yet another potential violation of the rule against making political statements during competition and medal ceremonies. The latest probe was sparked by Chinese athletes Bao Shanju and Zhong Tianshi.
After they won the women’s sprint in track cycling on Monday, Shanju and Tianshi wore badges paying tribute to late Chinese communist leader Mao Zedong. The badges may have been a violation of the long-standing Olympic rule that prohibits political, religious and racial demonstrations. That rule was loosened leading up to the Tokyo Olympics to give athletes greater freedom to demonstrate away from the field of play.
The IOC said Tuesday that it is “looking into the matter,” according to The Associated Press. IOC spokesperson Mark Adams said the organization has contacted the Chinese Olympic Committee and asked them for a report about the situation.
Mao, who died in 1976, founded the People’s Republic of China in 1949. Badges showing his profile were extremely popular during the 1960s among people who wanted to display their loyalty to the Communist Party.
This is at least the second gesture the IOC is investigating to determine if it violated Olympic rules on political displays. U.S. women’s shot-putter Raven Saunders made a symbol with her arms during the photo op at her medal ceremony on Sunday night, though the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee has already publicly supported her.