Olympics-Biles spotlights mental health, Tokyo COVID cases hang over Games

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Gymnastics - Artistic - Women's Team - Final
Tokyo 2020 Olympics – Gymnastics – Artistic – Women’s Team – Final – Ariake Gymnastics Centre, Tokyo, Japan – July 27, 2021. Simone Biles of the United States during the Women’s Team Final REUTERS/Mike Blake

July 28, 2021

TOKYO (Reuters) – Simone Biles’ abrupt exit from the U.S. team event and uncertainty over the gymnast’s remaining time at the Games put the mental health of athletes under the spotlight on Wednesday as the Tokyo Olympics headed into its fifth day of events.

Biles’ decision to put her wellbeing first was met with widespread support from fans and other athletes alike on Tuesday.

“There is more to life than just gymnastics,” Biles said, saying a focus on her well-being was her goal.

Without Biles, the American team mates surrendered gold and their title to Russian gymnasts on Tuesday.

By stepping back from the gruelling competition and speaking openly about mental health, Biles joins Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka, who took a break after she withdrew from the French Open in May.

Osaka, who lit the cauldron at the Games opening on Friday, lost out in her singles event on Tuesday and exited the Games.

The pandemic continued to hang over the Tokyo Olympics, particularly after the host city announced a record number https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/olympic-host-tokyo-asks-more-hospital-beds-covid-19-infections-rise-media-2021-07-27 of daily COVID-19 cases on Tuesday.

Though Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga shut down any possibility of cancelling the Olympics late on Tuesday, organisers are likely to remain on high alert for any breach of its bubble, where athletes and others involved in the Games avoid any public contact.

Japan’s baseball team warmed up early Wednesday under a partly cloudy sky in disaster-struck Fukushima ahead of a game with the Dominican Republic to open the six-team competition in the sport.

(Reporting by Paresh Dave; Editing by Toby Davis and Stephen Coates)