The pandemic and the lack of fans add to the mental pressure of Olympic athletes

TOKYO Jhe Tokyo Olympics is definitely different, and we knew it had the potential to distract athletes from their usual routines.

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 created additional stress.

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

The rings are a big part of any Olympics, and while that’s true of Tokyo, there’s one element of these Games that will be noticeably 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, Psych. D.sports psychologist at Intermountain Healthcare.

Kemmochi has experience working with top athletes.

He said the empty stands might affect some of them, especially knowing it’s because of COVID.

“With some athletes, what if they already had some sort of COVID-related trauma? Maybe they had lost a loved one to COVID, stuff like that, right? That can trigger a 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 when you can start having mental issues.

“A lot of people expect athletes to be strong and put together, 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 prepare mentally before taking off.

As with everyone last year, they are adapting.

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

KSL’s Alex Cabrero spoke to another Olympian – mountaineer Kyra Condie of Salt Lake City – who said one of her biggest struggles wouldn’t be having her parents in Tokyo cheering her on.

It is still not known tonight if Simone Biles will return for the individual competitions, which begin on Wednesday in Tokyo.

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