Why Simone Biles and U.S. Women's Gymnastics Team Are Skipping the Olympics Opening Ceremony

While fans were hoping to catch a glimpse of Simone Biles and the U.S. women's gymnastics team during the Olympic Opening Ceremony, the squad decided not to attend. Find out why below.

By Jess Cohen Jul 23, 2021 12:01 PMTags
Watch: Simone Biles Tells Why USA Gymnasts Skipped Opening Ceremony

If you were hoping to flip out over seeing the U.S. women's gymnastics team at the Tokyo Opening Ceremony, we have some unfortunate news for you.

A spokeswoman for the team confirmed to The New York Times that Simone Biles and her fellow gymnasts won't be walking in the event on Friday, July 23, because they're "focused on preparation." According to the outlet, Biles, Suni Lee, Jordan Chiles, Grace McCallum, MyKayla Skinner and Jade Carey also didn't take any questions from reporters after practicing on Friday, choosing instead to walk past journalists in a single file line led by the defending all-around champ.

Biles also took to her Instagram Story on Friday to further explain why the team decided not to attend the ceremony, citing the ongoing coronavirus pandemic as one of the reasons. Plus, "The amount of standing is crazy. USA is usually at the end as well because of alphabetical." Biles added that the gymnastics team starts "the following day," so it "wouldn't be smart" to attend. She also noted, "We've actually never attended Opening I believe. *Gym fans help me out if that info is wrong."

And although they opted out of the official Opening Ceremony, the team decided to have one of their own. Carey posted pictures on Instagram of the squad striking a pose in Olympic village, captioning the snaps, "our own little twist on opening ceremonies."

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Team USA Athletes Share Must-See Moments From the Tokyo Olympics

In addition to the gymnastics team, Olympian Alex Morgan also confirmed on Friday that the U.S. women's soccer team wouldn't be in attendance at the Opening Ceremony. As she explained, "We won't be there in person but we WILL be parading around the hotel in our opening ceremony outfits while prepping for game 2 tomorrow!"

Clearly, the teams are in the zone as they gear up to compete in the upcoming days. In fact, it was just yesterday that Biles was spotted practicing her history-making vault move: the Yurchenko Double Pike. Back in May, the four-time gold medalist became the first woman to land the move in competition. 

While the decorated athlete has already achieved so much in her career, Biles is looking to go for more gold during this Olympic run. "I knew I had more to give to the sport for myself and I felt like I had a purpose," she explained to Today's Hoda Kotb in April about her return to the Games. "And now, I feel like I do, and it's to be a voice for the younger generation. And I feel like I've done that. So, I feel like God just called me."

As the world awaits the start of the gymnastics competition, meet the athletes competing for Team U.S.A. below.

Simone Biles

Age: 24

Hometown: Columbus, Ohio

What to Know: Simply put, she's the GOAT. Not only does Simone have five Olympic medals (a figure that's bound to increase in Tokyo), she's the most decorated American gymnast of all time. 

Sam Mikulak

Age: 28

Hometown: Newport Coast, California

What to Know: This two-time Olympian and six-time national all-around champ is a prominent mental health advocate within the sport. After a series of devastating losses between 2013 and 2018, Sam turned to a sports psychologist, who helped him prioritize gratitude over perfection. 

Sunisa Lee

Age: 18

Hometown: St. Paul, Minnesota

What to Know: Suni is preparing for a major comeback after an incredibly tough 2020. Not only were her Olympic dreams dashed, the incoming Auburn University freshman broke her foot and lost two family members to COVID-19 just weeks apart. Now she's making history as the first Hmong American athlete to rep the U.S. at the Olympics. 

Brody Malone

Age: 21

Hometown: Summervile, Georgia

What to Know: The Stanford University student emerged as the breakout star of the men's gymnastics team after placing first at the Olympic trials. Brody's longtime girlfriend was present as he clinched a spot on Team USA, describing him on Instagram as the "most deserving person I have ever met."

Jordan Chiles

Age: 20

Hometown: Vancouver, Washington

What to Know: After nearly quitting gymnastics in 2018, Jordan got a second chance at rediscovering her passion for the sport when Simone Biles convinced her to move to Texas to train alongside her. What blossomed was a beautiful friendship that's sure to only grow stronger at the Games. 

Yul Moldauer

Age: 24

Hometown: Fort Collins, Colorado 

What to Know: Yul, who was adopted from South Korea as a baby, has used his platform to bring attention to the recent rise in anti-Asian hate. In March, the University of Oklahoma grad detailed an incident in which a woman driving next to him yelled, "Go back to China." He told Today of the experience, "It hurts to know that you have to represent people who have discrimination in them. You represent the entire country when you wear the U.S. flag on your jersey."

MyKayla Skinner

Age: 24

Hometown: Gilbert, Arizona

What to Know: After making the Rio 2016 team as an alternate, the pressure was on for the University of Utah alum to stick her last chance at Olympic glory. Over the past year, Mykayla overcame an Achilles injury and a bout with pneumonia that required hospitalization. Her hard work paid off, making her the oldest female U.S. Olympic gymnast since 2004. 

Shane Wiskus

Age: 22

Hometown: Spring Park, Minnesota

What to Know: Following a disappointing appearance at the 2021 U.S. Championships, Shane redeemed himself at the trials to secure a spot on Team USA. In September, he made headlines after leaving the University of Minnesota to train in Colorado because the school cut its men's gymnastics program.

Grace McCallum

Age: 18

Hometown: Isanti, Minnesota

What to Know: In early 2021, the teen was forced to take precious time away from the gym following hand surgery, during which she had a plate and seven screws installed. The obstacle only improved Grace's focus heading into the Olympic trials. As she described to FloGymnastics.com, "I know it'll be hard, but it'll all be worth it in the end."

Alec Yoder

Age: 24

Hometown: Indianapolis, Indiana

What to Know: The men's gymnastics selection committee picked the Utah State University alum for an individual spot. Following the death of his coach, Gene Watson, in April 2020, Alec vowed to achieve his Olympic dreams in his memory. "My goal was to win that Olympic medal and put it around your neck," he wrote on Facebook. "I'll keep training towards that goal Gene. That's what you would want."

Jade Carey

Age: 21

Hometown: Phoenix, Arizona

What to Know: Jade will only compete in individual events at the Tokyo Olympics, having qualified through the Apparatus World Cup Series in 2018, 2019 and 2020. In doing so, she forfeited the opportunity to participate in the team competition.

Catch up on all of E!'s 2020 Tokyo Olympics coverage here.