28.7. 16:19 | Updated 28.7. 17:28
World the best gymnast Simone Biles, 24, and a four-time grand slam winner in tennis Naomi Osaka, 23, are the hardest tip of their species.
Tracked, well-known and eye-catching athletes. Both also represent minorities, and have publicly expressed concern for equality and non-discrimination.
Both star athletes at the Tokyo Olympics have spoken about the pressures facing them.
The pressures that destabilize performance, but above all mental health.
Osaka, who lit the Olympic torch, suddenly dropped out of the Olympics on Tuesday after the lower-ranked Czech Marketa Vondroušova won the star in the women’s singles.
After the fall, Osaka said he experienced a lot of pressure from his first Olympics.
Read more: The torchbearer returned to the spotlight, but the road rose – Beloved Naomi Osaka gave face to the wild pressures of superstars
Also Biles ’Olympics began groping after he failed to jump in a team competition on Tuesday.
He dropped out of the team competition, and announced on Wednesday that he will not participate in the finals of the all-match either.
Read more: Simone Biles also misses the all-around game – Michael Phelps, the most successful Olympic athlete of all time: “We need someone to let us be ourselves”
After Monday’s qualifiers, Biles wrote in the caption of his Instagram post that he feels at times supporting the weight of the world on his shoulders.
Gold medals are expected from Biles, but he has been allowed to represent many other things.
Human rights in sport are of interest, and athletes have ended up in the lead.
In the background there is a wider societal development in which, for example, equality, racism and discrimination are discussed and acted upon.
“Sport lags behind Finland and elsewhere, as do other slightly more closed institutions in one way or another, such as religious communities. In the internal culture, problems may have been shaken or not identified, Secretary-General of the Alliance for Human Rights Kaari Mattila says.
Mattila is also a board member of FIDH, the international umbrella organization for human rights organizations.
Mattila would pay attention to where athletes want to react.
Athletes feel pressure to take a stand because those responsible for tackling human rights problems have been far too slow.
“There are still pretty big problems that are being swept under the rug or wanting to be addressed in your own circle. There is really no place for dealing with human rights in sport, there is a gap in it, ”says Mattila.
Osaka raised athletes ’mental health issues after refusing a French open press conference in May.
The tennis star thought he would offset the fines imposed on it, but a bigger halo arose from the situation.
At first, the Grand Slam tournaments threatened the star player with some sanctions, but the public hearing resulted in them offering help to the tennis star.
Read more: Naomi Osaka’s media boycott was a cry for distress – only the star player’s withdrawal from the French Open opened his eyes
Legal there is a human rights issue for mental health services, Mattila reminds. The treatment received by Osaka is a good example of the rigidity of sports organizations to deal with them.
Biles ’announcement to leave competitions in the middle to protect mental health has garnered a lot of encouraging feedback, but there are also those who see the suspension of competition as a sign of weakness when“ the head can’t stand ”.
“Could it be that you unintentionally encourage a culture that doesn’t seek help for mental health problems? That I have to get along with these until the race ends? Problems that are extremely common and should be treated. ”
To everyone public figures are under pressure, but it is worth remembering that, according to public records, Biles has a traumatic background.
Read more: Scaffolding gymnast Simone Biles survived the exploitation of a national team doctor and is now applying for his fifth Olympic gold in Tokyo
He has spoken openly about the horrors of his life, the barren early childhood, and the abuse of a national team doctor.
The beautiful idea of Olympic ideology is that sports do good. At the same time, some of the mental health problems experienced by athletes may be due to exploitation, racism, or harassment within the sport.
The U.S. gymnastics team has found large-scale and long-lasting exploitation. If everything is not addressed in criminal proceedings or the victim’s experiences are downplayed, it adds to the burden.
Within sports, it is often feared that nasty things will characterize the whole sport.
“In a culture where we think we take care of our own problems and structures as well, the problem is that when we are on the verge of action that meets the characteristics of a crime, how many are left unreported?”
Human Rights Association has worked with many athletes to improve their ability to discuss human rights issues.
For example, many find it difficult to raise issues related to racism, sexual harassment, children’s rights or other human rights. Not wanting to be stigmatized as awkward.
“Fear or worry can be due to many reasons. Maybe what is thought of me then or how my place is going or how I am treated on the team? Raising injustices is always a fight against windmills. ”
Tennis star Osaka and gymnast Biles are globally watched, earning millions of athletes.
Position, financial stability and experience allow them to speak directly, but the easy way is not. It is also difficult to refuse to speak.
People belonging to minorities usually fall as if as an automation to defend their own rights.
“In addition to being allowed to focus on sport, you yourself have to deprive sports organizations of the right to be treated equally. That is a very tough position. ”
Pressures also connect with sponsors. Very restrictive terms can often be included in secret agreements. Already in the Olympics themselves, there is a restriction on where and when an athlete is allowed to take a stand.
Companies are also facing a new one as public pressure and interest in the human rights of sport are on the rise.
“Companies have come into a situation where they have first been setting conditions and building sports competitions in countries that are blatantly trampling on human rights, benefiting from it. Now they have to balance quite a lot, otherwise the brand may suffer. ”
For example, carmaker Škoda reacted to the World Hockey Championships in Belarus and increased the pressure to move the venue towards the International Hockey Federation.
Read more: Škoda served a value communication lesson for the IIHF
Sports organizations also have the opportunity to ease the pressure on their stars. Mattila hopes that sports organizations will be encouraged to pursue all the rights of athletes instead of focusing solely on what improves performance.