Pandemic, lack of fans add mental pressure from Olympians



TOKYO The Tokyo Olympics are definitely different, and we knew they had the potential to take athletes out of their usual routine.

Normally they do a lot of mental training to block out all the noise, bBut even Simone Biles said on Tuesday that competing in an empty arena creates additional stress.

The KSL Olympic team spoke with a sports psychologist from Intermountain Health care before they left for Tokyo, who told them that adjusting to the calm might not be as simple as it sounds.

The rings are a big part of all the Olympics, and while this is true for Tokyo, there is one element of these Games that will be visibly missing.

No crowd could make things mentally very different from what some athletes are used to.

“I would say the mental aspect is even more important than the physical aspect,” said Tony Kemmochi, Psi. D., sports psychologist at Intermountain Healthcare.

Kemmochi has experience with top athletes.

He said the empty booths could affect some of them, especially considering it’s because of COVID.

“With some athletes, what if they already had some sort of trauma related to COVID? Maybe they had lost a loved one to COVID, stuff like that, right? This could trigger some of the losses they have suffered in the past, ”Kemmochi said.

And when an athlete tries to live up to an image, Kemmochi said that’s where you can start to have mental issues.

“A lot of people expect athletes to be strong and supportive, and sometimes athletes take that and internalize and feel like they just can’t be human,” he said.

The US Olympic Committee has made mental health a priority for its athletes.

Don’t be surprised if an athlete takes a little longer to mentally prepare before taking off.

As with everyone last year, they are adapting.

“I hope athletes can learn to speak up and let it express itself, but at the same time, you don’t have to overdo it to the point of feeling too overwhelmed,” Kemmochi said.

Alex Cabrero of KSL spoke to another Olympian – climber Kyra Condie of Salt Lake City – who said one of her biggest challenges would be not having her parents in Tokyo to cheer her on.

It is still unclear tonight if Simone Biles will return for the individual event competitions, which begin in Tokyo on Wednesday.


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