A day after six-time Olympic medalist Simone Biles removed herself from the team final, the American gymnastics superstar withdrew from all-around competition to focus on her mental well-being. USA Gymnastics said Biles will be evaluated daily before deciding if she will participate in next week's individual events. In Tokyo, Biles qualified for the finals on all four apparatuses, something she didn't even do during her five-medal haul in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. Keith Parry, Deputy Head of Department of Sport & Events Management at Bournemouth University, points out that "some of these athletes are under immense pressure ... but during the current pandemic it's gotten even worse." Mr. Parry describes the incredibly harsh conditions that pushed a number of Olympic athletes to completely withdraw from competition: "They've got no support there. There's no friends, no family. It's been described as the strictest, most restricted sporting event ever, and that was by the head of the IOC." Mr. Parry does expect Simone Biles to return to the world stage, as will other Olympians who had to bow out due to these "unprecedented times." Looking ahead, Mr. Parry is noticing a "shift in society and in sport that means that we are not going to ostracize an athlete for speaking up or even for protesting". Moving forward, he envisions better conditions in the sports world. "We're (already) starting to see it being much more acceptable to discuss mental health and the problems that were having, or for athletes around the world to speak up when we've been faced with discrimination or abuse." Mr. Parry would like to remind us that "this is not just a sport issue, it's a wider societal issue." Athletes are, first and foremost, human beings, and they are in a privileged position to raise awareness and foster change. "The pressure we're putting on athletes, celebrities, and the discrimination that people are faced with, is broad and is part of society unfortunately."
A federal statute would provide impetus to take a more proactive and direct approach to domestic extremism, columnist Caroline Petrow-Cohen says.