COLUMN: The IOC needs to address problems among Olympic athletes


Presidential Executive Office of Russia

Opening ceremony of the XXIV Winter Olympic Games in Beijing

Anna Meyer, Sports Editor

Every four years, fans across the globe gather together for the Olympics. The Olympics are usually known as a time of peace when countries put politics aside in order to compete. 

This year, almost everything has been turned upside down for the 2022 Winter Olympics, from viewership to how athletes are being treated inside Olympic Village. 

While many of us enjoy seeing the glamorous shiny outfits of ice skaters competing in competitions, the behind-the-scenes for Olympic athletes competing in Beijing, China, has been anything but sparkly and shiny. 

Behind the scenes, athletes face some of the worst conditions they have seen in their lives.  

With the COVID-19 pandemic still in full force, athletes testing positive and being put in quarantine have faced extremely difficult situations. 

Various countries have expressed their disappointment and lack of transparency regarding athletes in quarantine. This is the first of many problems. 

According to reports from NPR, team officials from Germany, Belgium and Russia have objected to the horrendous quarantine situation that includes untrustworthy internet, unhealthy food and no opportunities for training. 

Yet, the International Olympic Committee has not addressed this problem. 

On the other hand, the International Olympic Committee should be concerned about the mental health problems happening amongst their own athletes during the Olympic games. 

As we saw in the delayed 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, the training and countless hours of work can take a mental toll on the athletes. One of the greatest gymnasts of all time, Simon Biles bowed out during the 2020 Summer Olympics due to a risk to her safety. 

At just the beginning of the 2022 Winter Olympics, we saw former gold medalist Mikaela Shiffrin break down after a disqualification as she questioned her career. 

“Pretty much everything makes me second guess the last 15 years. Everything I thought I knew about my own skiing and slalom and racing mentality. Just processing a lot for sure. And I feel really bad. There’s a lot more going on today besides my little situation, but I feel really bad for doing that.”

Shiffrin’s performance and comments made me question the conditions that the Olympic athletes have been dealing with and the mental health issues that they face. 

Where has the International Olympic Committee been for these athletes? 

With the push to be the best in their sport worldwide and the time-consuming hours of training put in, Olympic athletes’ mental health is typically put on the back burner. 

It seems like the mental health of Olympic athletes has been forgotten and the focus is on one thing and one thing only: winning the coveted gold medal.

Despite Biles’s horrible situation, maybe it was what athletes needed to see: realizing it is okay to say you are not okay. 

With Bile’s breaking the stigma, maybe other athletes will continue to come forward on what they are facing. 

It is a matter of time until the International Olympic Committee deals with these problems.