Simone Biles Is Competing At The Tokyo Olympics For One Emotional Reason

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Simone Biles Is Holding The Olympics Accountable For Sexual Abuse

Simone Biles isn’t just competing for her country when she steps out at the Tokyo 2021 Olympics, she’s doing it for sexual abuse survivors.

Biles is the most decorated gymnast in history with over 30 Olympic and World Championship medals to her name. But she’s also a woman who has been through a lot. 

The 24-year-old’s return to the mat is symbolic after she previously went public with her experience of sexual abuse at the hands of convicted sexual predator and former Team USA Gymnastics doctor, Larry Nassar.

"I just feel like [with] everything that happened, I had to come back to the sport to be a voice, to have change happen," Biles has revealed in a Today interview.

"Because I feel like if there weren't a remaining survivor in the sport, they would've just brushed it to the side."

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Why Simone Biles says she is representing sexual abuse survivors at the Tokyo Olympics

Biles is Nassar’s only known survivor who is still in the sport and, thus, represents all the other women who were impacted by his abuse and the lack of action taken by Team USA. 

Having initially denied the claims of sexual abuse, Biles has become increasingly open about her experience and how she had tried to repress her trauma. 

“At one point I slept so much because, for me, it was the closest thing to death without harming myself," she said. "It was an escape from all of my thoughts, from the world, from what I was dealing with. It was a really dark time.”

Now, Biles says her return to the sport is about much more than winning medals. She wants her platform to be a constant reminder of how easily sexual abuse can be ignored if not taken seriously. 

“I feel like gymnastics wasn't the only thing I was supposed to come back for," she says.

Nassar is currently serving a life sentence on charges of child pornography and sexual misconduct after more than 150 women and girls said he sexually abused them.

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Olympic officials have more work to do when it comes to sexual abuse

Biles says that Nassar isn’t the only one who needs to be held accountable for the abuse. 

She and Aly Raisman, two of the biggest names in gymnastics, expressed their outrage last year at the lack of investigation into the scandal. 

Calling out USA Gymnastics and the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee, Biles and Raisman expressed that they still want answers and alleged that the organizations were trying to cover up the abuse. 

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Biles has been particularly adamant that the organizations pursue an independent investigation in the hopes of making the sport safer going forward. She clapped back at USAG’s birthday post for her in 2020 by again demanding an investigation.

She has even used her pre-Olympic press coverage to advocate for herself and other victims. 

“While the survivors are still out there competing I feel like [the organizations] just want to sweep it under the rug but that’s not how to go about it,” Biles said during the virtual U.S. Olympic media summit.

Her refusal to back down on the matter is a reminder that sexual abuse is not just carried out by individuals, it is perpetuated and enabled by systems and organizations.

And though her relentless activism wouldn’t be necessary if these organizations would commit themselves to preventing sexual abuse, Biles’s efforts serve as a message to all survivors that there is strength even after trauma. 

As Biles says, even after it all, “I’m still here.”  

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Alice Kelly is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York. Catch her covering all things social justice, news, and entertainment. Keep up with her Twitter for more.