The image of Communist China's founding leader, Mao Zedong, made an unscheduled appearance at the Tokyo Olympics, and the International Olympic Committee said Tuesday it is “looking into the matter.”
The gesture — Mao pin badges worn by two Chinese gold medalists at their medal ceremony — risks being judged a breach of Olympic Charter Rule 50, which prohibits political statements on the podium at the Tokyo Games — and at the upcoming 2022 Beijing Winter Games.
After winning the women’s sprint in track cycling Monday, Bao Shanju and Zhong Tianshi wore pin badges of Mao. The communist leader who proclaimed the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949 remains an iconic figure in China 45 years after his death in 1976.
The incident came one day after American shot-put silver medalist Raven Saunders crossed the wrists of her raised arms on the podium. She was standing next to the gold medalist from China.
It was unclear Tuesday if the Mao pins were a response to the shot-put medal ceremony.
“We have contacted the Chinese Olympic Committee, asked them for a report about the situation,” IOC spokesman Mark Adams said at the daily news conference at the Tokyo Games.