Olympics-Chinese champions wear Mao badges on cycling podium

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Cycling - Track - Women's Team Sprint - Medal Ceremony
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TOKYO (Reuters) - Chinese gold medallists Bao Shanju and Zhong Tianshi wore badges featuring the head of the country's former leader Mao Zedong during a medal ceremony on Monday, in a potential breach of Olympic rules on the display of political paraphernalia.

The duo wore the badges, commonplace in China for half a century but a potential breach of Article 50 of the Olympic charter, after retaining the women's cycling team sprint title at the Izu Velodrome.

The International Olympic Committee last month relaxed Article 50 to allow gestures, such as taking the knee, on the field of play provided athletes do so without disruption and with respect for fellow competitors.

Politics on the podium are still banned, however.

The IOC has been contacted for comment.

The IOC earlier on Monday said it was investigating a gesture made on the podium by American athlete Raven Saunders after she won a silver medal in the shot put on Sunday evening.

Saunders raised her arms in an X above her head, which she later indicated was an expression of support for the oppressed.

The United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) later said the gesture did not breach its rules as it was a "peaceful expression in support of racial and social justice (that) was respectful of her competitors".

(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Ed Osmond)

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