Olympic Athletes Speak Out – Student Bates
The much anticipated 2020 Olympic Games are almost over, but the successes and messages from the athletes are not to be forgotten. Protest was authorized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on July 2nd. However, there were still restrictions on when protests could take place – they were not allowed on the podium or during the team or athlete presentation.
One form of protest that athletes have made is to make gestures. On the first day of the women’s football competition, the British team knelt down, which their Chilean opponent quickly reciprocated. Kneeling has become a uniform sign of protest against discrimination and racism. This was also done by the American and Swedish teams.
Raven Saunders, the silver-winning American shot putter, raised her hands in an “X” shape on the podium, which is strictly against the rules set by the IOC. The organization said it was considering next steps on what to do. Saunders, who is black and gay, said the “X” represents the intersection where oppressed people meet.
Some athletes protested through their uniforms. In women’s gymnastics, the German women’s team wore full-length leotards as opposed to shorter bikini leotards, protesting the sexualization of women in sports such as gymnastics. Likewise, the Norwegian women’s beach handball team wore shorts instead of bikini bottoms, which is against the rules of the International Handball Federation (IHF) under article 4.8. Each player was fined 150 euros for a total of 1,500 euros or 1,700 US dollars. They too were protesting against the sexualization of their team, as men’s teams are allowed to wear shorts during competition.
The US men’s fencing team also staged a protest against his own teammate. Fencers Jake Hoyle, Curtis McDowald and Yeisser Ramirez wore pink masks that contrasted with their teammate’s black mask, Alen hadzic, after being accused of sexual assault by several women.
But what was one of the games’ most notable moments was this Simone Bilès, one of the most decorated gymnasts in history, did it. She withdrew from the eventing final and several individual events after a jump which many gymnasts believed could have had serious physical consequences. Biles confessed that her sanity was not where it should have been and that for her physical and mental safety she would not be competing.
While it may not be seen as a full-fledged event, the importance of mental health and athletes has become a priority this year in sports media. There was an outcry of support for Biles from many athletes, including Michael Phelps, who championed mental health after retiring from swimming.
“The Olympics are overwhelming,” Phelps said in an interview with NBC Sports. “There are a lot of emotions. . . [Olympic athletes] carry a lot of things. . . and it is difficult.
Biles returned for the beam final and won bronze.
Tennis star Naomi Osaka is another athlete who has taken her mental health into consideration; she shocked the world when she refused to speak to the press after Roland Garros.
The best athletes in the world take a stand on the issues that concern them. The response to these messages determines what we really value in these athletes. Do we value them as pure entertainment and do we think they shouldn’t be involved in political or social issues, or do we see them as people, just like us, who should have a say in the world? ?