Simone Biles withdrew from the women’s multiple gymnastics final at the Tokyo Olympics on Thursday after a new medical assessment determined she was not yet ready to compete. The news follows her dramatic decision to stop competing in the women’s team event on Tuesday after just one rotation in the vault due to mental health issues.
However, a statement from American Gymnastics left open the possibility that Biles, who could still make four more finals, could return for the individual events at the Games next week.
“After further medical evaluation, Simone Biles withdrew from the final all-around,” he said. “We wholeheartedly support Simone’s decision and salute her bravery by putting her well-being first. Her courage shows, once again, why she is a role model for so many people. “
Jade Carey, who finished ninth in qualifying, will replace Biles in the all-around. Carey did not qualify initially as she was the third American behind Biles and Sunisa Lee. The rules of the International Gymnastics Federation limit countries to two athletes per event in the final.
The organization said Biles will be assessed before deciding whether to participate in individual events next week.
Meanwhile, Biles’ decision has been widely praised by American sports superstars, with Michael Phelps among those insisting it will “open the doors” to athlete mental health.
Phelps, the most decorated Olympian in history with 23 gold medals, said seeing Biles leaving the arena “broke my heart” but said her actions would make waves far beyond of this year’s Olympics.
“I hope it’s an eye-opening experience, I really mean it,” he added. “I hope this is an opportunity for us to get on board and even open up this mental health business even further. It’s so much bigger than we can imagine.
“We carry a lot of weight on our shoulders, and it’s a challenge, especially when we have the lights on and all of these expectations are thrown on us. “
Speaking to NBC, Phelps also recalled his own battles with mental health, saying he struggled to seek help when he needed it.
“I can say personally that it was something very difficult. It was difficult for me to ask for help. But it’s so important, especially teaching children at a young age to take control of their physical and mental health. We are human beings. Nobody is perfect. “
Meanwhile, speaking after winning her sixth Olympic gold in the women’s 1,500m, swimmer Katie Ledecky spoke about the pressure Biles was under.
“Everyone in the world is watching, certainly Simone has so many eyes on her,” she said. “The cameras follow you everywhere, I see it on days like today. You may feel like a lot of people are watching you and every move you make is being watched and judged. “
“I’ve gotten to know Simone over the years and we are in touch from time to time,” she added. “I hope she knows that I really support her and I hope she is doing really well the rest of the week. “
American sprinter and long jumper Tianna Bartoletta, who won three gold medals at the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Olympics, said Biles’ actions will resonate well beyond the sport.
“There are people who have seen Simone walk away from this and are stuck up to their knees in some shit right now,” she wrote. “They watched the greatest gymnast of all time come out of the biggest stage and I guarantee you that for the first time this same person somewhere is thinking…
“If she can get away from it – with all of that at stake for her, with the whole country and maybe even the world coming up in heat with their hot takes – maybe, just maybe I can do. this not to walk too. There may be a lot of power. And hope is a hell of a drug.
Biles, who said she decided to step down to protect her “mind and body” rather than just doing what the world wanted her to do, was also praised by the International Olympic Committee.
“What we can all say, regardless of what happened, we have immense respect and support for her,” said IOC spokesperson Mark Adams.
Adams added that the IOC had provided psychologists in the Athletes’ Village as well as an athlete helpline in 70 languages. “Mental health is an extremely important issue. Are we doing enough? I hope so, I think so. But like everyone else in the world, we can do more on this issue. “