US gymnast Biles withdraws from individual all-around competition at Tokyo Olympics, a day after shocking the world by pulling out of the team event that Russia won.
Superstar gymnast Simone Biles has pulled out of a second event to protect her mental health, putting the spotlight on athletes' wellbeing at the Tokyo Olympics held under strict rules to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
Biles, who caused shockwaves with her withdrawal during the team event on Tuesday, also ditched the all-around on Wednesday, raising doubts about her further participation in Tokyo.
The 24-year-old American's struggles follow those of Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka, another face of the Games who lost in the third round on her return from a mental health break.
They overshadowed another busy day at the delayed 2020 Games, where US swimming great Katie Ledecky bounced back from her second defeat by Australia's Ariarne Titmus to win her first gold in Tokyo.
Eye on four remaining individual events
Biles, unbeaten in all-around competition since 2013 and widely touted as the "GOAT" (Greatest Of All Time), arrived seeking five Olympic titles to equal Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina's career record of nine.
But this week she complained she had "the weight of the world on my shoulders" and withdrew after a single, shaky vault in the team competition.
Attention will now focus on whether she will compete in her four remaining individual events.
Biles is not alone in suffering mental problems, and several athletes have complained of difficulties during coronavirus lockdowns. Australian basketball star Liz Cambage was one who skipped Tokyo fearing its "terrifying" living conditions.
On Wednesday, Dutch athletes in quarantine in Tokyo after testing positive revealed they staged a sit-in strike over the harsh conditions, eventually earning the concession of being able to stand at an open window for 15 minutes a day.
"Not having any outside air is so inhuman, and it is mentally super-draining," said street skateboarder Candy Jacobs, while taekwondo fighter Reshmie Oogink called it "Olympic jail".
International Olympic Committee spokesman Mark Adams said support measures included psychologists in the Athletes' Village and phone helplines.
"That became more urgent obviously with the Covid pandemic, so we've been working on that quite a lot," he said.
After further medical evaluation, Simone Biles has withdrawn from the final individual all-around competition. We wholeheartedly support Simone’s decision and applaud her bravery in prioritizing her well-being. Her courage shows, yet again, why she is a role model for so many. pic.twitter.com/6ILdtSQF7o— USA Gymnastics (@USAGym) July 28, 2021
Elsewhere Ledecky, who won four gold medals at the Rio 2016 Games, lost her 200m freestyle crown to Titmus, two days after also ceding her 400m title to the Australian.
But Ledecky regrouped to annihilate the field in the first women's 1500m held at an Olympics, finishing more than four seconds clear of US teammate Erica Sullivan.
Ledecky, 24, is just the fourth female swimmer to claim six Olympic gold medals, with her first coming in the 800m freestyle at the London 2012 Games.
But Titmus, nicknamed "Terminator", is emerging as one of the stars at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre.
Japan's Yui Ohashi completed a medley double, winning the 200m event to go with the 400m gold she secured on Sunday, while world record-holder Kristof Milak powered to the men's 200m butterfly gold.
Britain's freestyle swimmers brought the morning session to a thrilling climax, narrowly missing out on a world record in the 4x200m freestyle as they beat the Russian team by more than three seconds.
In baking conditions, Spanish tennis player Paula Badosa retired and left the court in a wheelchair after suffering heatstroke.
Russia's Daniil Medvedev had breathing problems during his third-round win over Fabio Fognini, and asked the umpire, "If I die, are you going to be responsible?"
In response to the incidents, organisers said from Thursday matches would not start until 3:00 AM to avoid the worst of the Tokyo heat.
Elsewhere, Dutch rider Annemiek van Vleuten won the women's cycling time trial, and Fiji retained their men's rugby sevens title with a typically free-flowing 27-12 win over New Zealand
In men's basketball, the United States bounced back to hammer Iran 120-66 after they fell to a strong French team for their first Olympic defeat in 17 years.
Players and coaches from the geopolitical rivals chatted after the game. USA coach Gregg Popovich said: "People generally get along and appreciate each other, no matter what country you are talking about.