By David Dolan, Elaine Lies and Martin Petty TOKYO (Reuters) – Simone Biles withdrew from the individual all-around competition at the Tokyo Olympics on Wednesday, a day after she shocked the world by pulling out of the team event.
Olympians past and present flooded the U.S. gymnast with messages of support as the mental health of athletes — and the extra pressures brought by the COVID-19 pandemic — were in sharp focus at the Games.
“The advice I would give is to reach out, to colleagues and friends,” said Sebastian Coe, president of World Athletics. “Don’t be afraid to show vulnerability, it’s a badge of honor in a way to want that help.”
The International Olympic Committee admitted “more could be done” around athlete mental health. IOC spokesman Mark Adams said it was a matter the organization had been working on for some time.
As the U.S. Team adjusted to a Games without Biles securing her 10th gold medal, host city Tokyo grappled with a record surge in coronavirus infections. Fears over rising cases cast a shadow over Japan’s on-field performance.
The host nation continued to top the medal standings with 13 golds and 22 in total. China had 12 golds with a total of 27 medals, with the United States in third position on 10 golds and 31 medals in all at about 10:30 p.m. Tokyo time.
Japanese swimmer Yui Ohashi won her second gold in the 200m individual medley during a morning dominated by champion women in the pool. It was also a day of firsts for countries around the world with historic victories and losses in various sporting arenas.