This Is Why Simone Biles Isn't at the Olympics Opening Ceremony
You won't spot the U.S. gymnastics team at the big event.
When you watch the opening ceremony of the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, one of this year's biggest stars will be missing. Simone Biles is did not attend the opening ceremony for a few very good reasons. And it's not just Biles—the entire U.S. gymnastics team is skipping the event and will be making their Olympics debut this weekend instead. Read on to find out why you won't spot the team and to see what Biles had to say about the decision on social media.
The team is focused on the task at hand.
A spokesperson for the U.S. women's gymnastics team told the New York Times that the athletes weren't walking in the opening ceremony because they are "focused on preparation." The gymnastics qualification rounds take place this weekend, with the first competition for the U.S. women taking place on Sunday.
Biles shared more insight about the choice on Instagram.
On Friday, Biles did a Q&A about the Olympics on Instagram and answered questions sent in by fans. When a follower asked why the team didn't attend the opening ceremony, which will re-air in primetime tonight, Biles had four answers. First, she wrote "COVID…" with an eyes emoji. Second, she said, "The amount of standing is crazy. USA is usually at the end as well because alphabetical." Third, "We start the following day. So it wouldn't be smart." And lastly, she explained, "We've actually never attended opening I believe" and added, "gym fans help me out if that info is wrong."
Biles did not attend the opening ceremony during her previous Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. The U.S. women's gymnastics team also did not attend in London in 2012.
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The team is also skipping out on another Olympic tradition.
Olympic athletes usually stay in what is called the Olympic Village during the games, but this year the women's gymnastics team is not staying there due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As reported by NBC News, USA Gymnastics said that the team had always planned on staying in a hotel, even before an alternate for the team, Kara Eaker, tested positive for COVID.
Prior to Eaker's diagnosis, Cecile Landi, who is the coach for Biles and teammate Jordan Chiles, tweeted that staying outside of the Olympic Village was "a decision that we all made together." Landi continued, "We know it isn't ideal for the Olympic experience but nothing is ideal during a pandemic we feel like we can control the athletes and our safety better in a hotel setting!"
The team had their own mini opening ceremony.
While Biles and the rest of the team didn't attend the real opening ceremony, they still put on their Team USA opening ceremony outfits and had a celebration of their own. "We did our own little walk outside where we are staying haha," Biles wrote in a response to a fan who asked if the were attending. Gymnast MyKayla Skinner's coach, Lisa Spini, posted a video of the men's and women's gymnastics teams walking in a line and pretending to wave and point at an audience.
The athletes also shared pictures of themselves in their outfits on social media, including some cute photos of the whole women's team together.