The Olympic opening ceremony looked a lot different this year. Many athletes were noticeably absent during the Parade of Nations. If you’re wondering why Simone Biles wasn’t at the 2021 Olympics opening ceremony, she explained the reason on Instagram.
Biles has been the one to watch ever since she competed at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro with the U.S. Women’s National Team, dubbed the “Final Five.” Although she took a brief hiatus in 2017, she made a big comeback the following year by competing at the National Championships and World Championships. Fans would have loved to see her compete at the Tokyo Olympics in 2020, but due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Games were pushed back to the summer of 2021. It was announced Biles qualified for this year’s Olympics on June 27. The day after the news came out, she shared her gratitude on Twitter, writing, “I just want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart this is just the beginning of the journey!”
Since she’s such a big name in the world of sports, fans were confused when they didn’t see her at the Olympic opening ceremony on Friday, July 23. Shortly after the event began, Biles took to her IG Story to explain her and her teammates’ absence. “COVID,” she said in response to a fan asking why they weren’t at the opening ceremony.
It wasn’t just the gymnastics team, however. After Tokyo entered its fourth coronavirus state of emergency on July 12, event organizers were asked to limit their venue capacities to half or have a 5,000-person cap (whichever was smaller). As a result, the International Olympic Committee announced there would be no spectators and only VIPs would be allowed to attend the opening ceremony. They also said the number of athletes during the Parade of Nations would be reduced, which is why fans saw so many of their favorite Olympians missing.
Besides the coronavirus restrictions, Biles said there were a number of other reasons she didn’t attend the ceremony. “The amount of standing is crazy, USA is usually at the end as well because alphabetical. We start the following day, so it wouldn’t be smart,” she explained. “We’ve actually never attended the opening I believe.”
Biles was right about her never having attended the opening. At the 2016 Games, she and the Final Five were reportedly absent because they wanted to get some rest.
Considering Biles has been training for the Olympics nonstop these past few years, she definitely deserved a bit of a break before competing this year!