Biles out of next event, mental health in Games spotlight

TOKYO, July 28 (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 honour 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 organisation 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.

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Source: Reuters, David Dolan, Elaine Lies, Martin Petty