Stars rally behind Simone Biles as she withdraws from women's team gymnastics event at Tokyo Olympics, citing mental health

By Heather Cichowski and Zach Harper

Stars rally behind Simone Biles as she withdraws from women's team gymnastics event at Tokyo Olympics, citing mental health


Fans, stars and fellow gymnasts sent Simone Biles their support and love as she withdrew from the team final of the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics on July 27, citing her mental health.

The move came after the four-time Olympic gold medallist appeared on the competition floor at Ariake Gymnastics Centre for her first event, vault. After an error, the 24-year-old left the area and was attended to by the team's medical trainer, Marcia Faustin.

"Simone Biles has withdrawn from the team final competition due to a medical issue," said USA Gymnastics in a statement. "She will be assessed daily to determine medical clearance for future competitions."

The message ended, "Thinking of you, Simone!"

Simone, right, celebrates winning a silver medal with her gymnastics teammates Grace McCallum, Sunisa Lee and Jordan Chiles on July 27. Photo: © Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

In a press conference after the U.S. women's gymnastic team won a silver medal, Simone appeared with teammates Sunisa Lee, Grace McCallum and Jordan Chiles, where she spoke about her mental health and why she made the difficult decision.

"At the end of the day, I have to do what was right for me," she said, according to The New York Times, citing the intense pressure she had been under. "It just sucks that it happened at the Olympic Games."

Ian Herbert of the Daily Mail tweeted that Simone cited Naomi Osaka as an inspiration for making her decision. Earlier this year, the tennis star withdrew from the French Open, citing mental health concerns she said were connected to press conferences while competing.

"Physically, I feel good, I'm in shape," Simone told Today, saying she wasn't sure if she'd compete on July 28 in the all-around individual final. "Emotionally, that kind of varies on time and moment. Coming into the Olympics and being head star isn't an easy feat, so we're just trying to take it one day at a time and we'll see."

Simone also said her withdrawal was made with her teammates in mind – she did it to preserve America's chances of getting a medal.

"Whenever you get into a high stress situation, you kind of freak out," she added in the press conference. "I have to focus on my mental health and not jeopardize my health and well-being.

"We have to protect our body and mind. It just sucks when you're fighting with your head."

Simone Biles smiles widely from the podium with her Team USA members after winning the silver medal during the Women's Team Final on July 27. Photo: © Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Simone immediately received an outpouring of support.

"Someone said it best," Today's Hoda Kotb tweeted. "@Simone_Biles has already won. She is a class act. Withdrew from team competition after vault... stayed and cheered on her teammates... got them chalk for their hands... encouraged... hugged them. She already won. Congrats on the silver medal!"

"Gratitude and support are what @Simone_Biles deserves," White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki tweeted. "Still the GOAT and we are all just lucky to be able to see her in action. And congrats and tsk to the tough as nails #TeamUsa @sunisalee_, ChilesJordan and @grace_mccallum2 for being role models and champs."

"Simone Biles is still the most amazing athlete ever," Rosanna Arquette tweeted.

Several of Simone's fellow Olympians, many of whom competed with her in gymnastics in the past, were also quick to send her love.

"I know that all of these athletes dream of this moment for their whole entire lives, and so I'm just completely devastated," three-time Olympic gold medallist Aly Raisman told Today, saying people should remember "she's human."

"I also am just thinking about the mental impact that this has to have on Simone. It's just so much pressure, and I've been watching how much pressure has been on her in the months leading up to the Games, and it's just devastating. I feel horrible."

MyKayla Skinner, who was supported by Simone herself earlier this week when she didn't qualify for individual competition, also sent Simone her good thoughts.

"I can't even imagine what she's going through right now," she told Today. "I wish I could run down there and give her a big hug."

On July 26, Simone made an Instagram post in which she wrote about her performance in the preliminaries, and the pressure she was feeling.

"It wasn't an easy day or my best but I got through it," she said. "I truly do feel like I have the weight of the world on my shoulders at times. I know I brush it off and make it seem like pressure doesn't affect me but damn sometimes it's hard hahaha! The Olympics is no joke! BUT I'm happy my family was able to be with me virtually... they mean the world to me!"

We're sending Simone our very best thoughts and commend her for taking care of her mental health. We also want to send her and the team congratulations on the silver medal! We wish Simone well in her recovery and that she continues to make the best decisionf r

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