America performed phenomenally at this year’s Olympics in Tokyo, but some of the stories that will go down in history have little to do with athletic abilities.
As the 2020 Olympic Games have concluded, there is a clear winner, and it’s Team USA. Some athletes even broke records this year. From an entertaining warm-up routine during the Olympic Trials to anti-sex beds at the Athletes Village in Tokyo, many athletes brought home unforgettable memories along with their medals.
The USA Wins Gold at the Tokyo Olympics
The results of the 2020 Olympic Games held in Tokyo are officially in, and it was a good year for America. American athletes brought home more medals in total and by category than any other country.
With 39 gold medals, team USA inched above the People’s Republic of China’s 38 gold medals. But in the collective amount of medals — gold, bronze, and silver — America roped in 113. The People’s Republic of China came in second again, with a collective amount of 88 medals.
The comprehensive list of the 2020 Olympic Results is available at olympics.com.
Additionally, this year’s athletes broke several Olympic records, and the New York Times gives a full report of the feats in their recently published article, “A look at all of the world records that were broken at the Tokyo Olympics.”
As for some of the non-athletic stories that unfolded during this year’s Olympic competitions, there was everything from teammates protesting against one another to outrage over anti-sex beds for the athletes.
USA Fencing Team Protests Against Teammate Accused of Sexual Misconduct
US Olympic Fencing team alternate, Alen Hadzic, has been accused by multiple women of sexual misconduct. The incidents of sexual impropriety date back between 2013 and 2015 and involve three female-fencers — two of them likely attended university with Hadzic.
At this year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo, Hadzic’s teammates entered the arena wearing pink masks to show their support for his accusers and protest his past behavior as well as his eligibility to compete.
While Hazdic has denied the allegations, The New York Times reported that he had to fly separately to Tokyo and has also been prohibited from residing in the Olympic Village, forcing him to stay in a remote hotel. As the US Fencing Team told the Times, “This precaution was taken for the safety and well-being of other American fencers who expressed concerns about Hadzic’s presence and a desire to minimize distractions.”
An Unorthodox Warm-Up Dance
Sierra Schmidt has gotten a lot of attention for her lively warm-up dance before competing in the Olympic Trials for the US national swim team. In a now-viral tweet from user @lainehiggins17, Schmidt can be seen grooving to the max.
Twitter users in the comments section recognized her moves from a music video for “CHEER UP” by girl group TWICE.
Schmidt’s dancing even caught the attention of Stephen Colbert, the host of The Late Show, who featured a clip of her routine during a segment of the show called “Meanwhile.”
But this wasn’t a stunt explicitly reserved for the Olympic Trials; instead, it truly is the way she warms up before a race. A YouTube channel called Swimming World published a small documentary about her routine back in January of 2015.
Proud American Wrestler
After securing the USA’s second-ever gold medal for women’s freestyle wrestling, Tamyra Mensah-Stock went viral, but not for her dance moves. In her post-victory interview, Mensah-Stock could not contain how proud she was to be a part of Team USA and represent her country.
With an American flag wrapped around her shoulders and tears running down her face, she said, “I’m crying from joy!” When asked how it felt to represent her country, she simply said, “it feels amazing. I love representing the US. I freaking love living there. I love it. And I am so happy I get to represent USA!”
The full interview can be viewed on NBC Sport’s YouTube Channel.
Simone Biles Bows Out
Simone Biles is easily one of the most impressive athletes on Team USA. She showed her incredible athleticism at the 2016 Olympic Games, winning four gold medals and a bronze during the gymnastic competitions. Though the nation was excited to see her dominate again this year, Simone Biles formally withdrew from the competition.
After winning a silver and bronze, Biles pulled out from the Olympics for personal reasons. The USA gymnastics made the following statement on the matter: “Simone has withdrawn from the team final competition because of a medical issue. She will be assessed daily to determine medical clearance for future competitions.”
Biles has spoken about her decision in multiple interviews, citing mental health concerns as the primary reason for withdrawing. Across the internet, Biles was both ridiculed and praised. One of her biggest critics was radio show host Charlie Kirk.
Kirk, the founder of Turning Point USA, a conservative media organization, posted a video titled “Charlie Kirk Takes Down Selfish Simone Biles After Disgraceful Olympic Decision” to his YouTube channel. The video starts with Kirk openly admitting that he “doesn’t know what she’s been through” and then proceeded to call Biles a “selfish sociopath.”
Not all of the responses have been criticizing in nature, though. For others, Biles has become a sort of icon for raising mental health awareness. A USA Today article titled, “Simone Biles is a role model for prioritizing her own mental health over an Olympic medal,” praises her for her decision. One passage reads, “She’s helping young people realize that it’s OK to take care of themselves. She’s teaching them to prioritize their bodies because mental health and physical health are inextricably linked.”
While America’s reaction to one of its star athletes has been divided, Biles has since revealed more about what was going through her mind at the time. As CBS News reported at the beginning of the month, “Simone Biles reveals her aunt died unexpectedly during Tokyo Olympics.”
Cardboard “Anti-Sex” Beds at the Tokyo Olympics
Olympic runner, Paul Chelimo, tweeted on July 16 about cardboard beds that competitors would be sleeping on during the Tokyo Olympics this year. Including photos of the beds, Chelimo wrote, “Beds to be installed in Tokyo Olympic Village will be made of cardboard, this is aimed at avoiding intimacy among athletes / Beds will be able to withstand the weight of a single person to avoid situations beyond sports.” And thus, the rumors began.
In an interview with the Associated Press, Takashi Kitajima, the general manager of the Athletes Village where the beds were being installed, explained how the beds could hold up to 200 kilograms (440 lbs). He even added that they are “stronger than wood.”
The beds clearly were not designed to deter any athlete’s sexual activity, as a TikTok now posted to YouTube shows one of these beds withstanding the weight of eight Israeli athletes, but why cardboard? According to Kitajima, “The organizing committee was thinking about recyclable items, and the bed was one of the ideas” (Video of athletes jumping on a bed on City Sports Network’s YouTube channel).
Next Year’s Olympics
The next Olympic Games will be held in Beijing, the People’s Republic of China, in 2022. The last time the games were held there was in 2008, which was also the first time. China set a high bar for the Opening Ceremonies that year. The product value cost tens of millions of dollars, had more than 15,000 performers, and the New York Times published a piece on it titled, “China’s Leaders Try to Impress and Reassure the World.” To read more stories about past Olympics, visit history.com.