Olympics Watch: Off to a Rough Start - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Olympics Watch: Off to a Rough Start
Members of the U.S. women's soccer team react after losing 3-0 to Sweden (NBC Sports/YouTube screenshot)

The Tokyo Olympics will likely be the most expensive Olympics in history even as recent polls have shown that as much as 70 percent of the Japanese public wants the games canceled or postponed because of COVID-19. The pandemic restrictions are looming over the events, which began July 23, as athletes are shuffled around in masks and compete in empty stadiums. 

Experts are predicting that the negative energy around the games will result in historically low television ratings. Ratings for Friday’s opening ceremony were already at a 33-year low. It doesn’t help, either, that American athletes are taking a knee before the flag, alienating millions of Americans with their disrespect. 

The Olympics aren’t entertaining to watch without fans. It doesn’t feel like an elite, high-stakes competition among nations unless the crowd is going wild or holding their breaths in anticipation. The empty stands of the beautiful stadiums are depressing, and you’ve got to feel for the athletes who are at the competition of their lives without their families there to support them. 

American athletes are getting off to a bumpy start. The women’s soccer team, which is the favorite for gold, lost to Sweden 3-0 in its opening match. (Trump blamed the crushing loss on “wokeism.”) But beyond that loss, American athletes have been missing the mark and losing when they should be winning. 

As of Monday morning, the U.S. is behind in both the overall medal count and the number of gold medals. Japan has the most gold medals, at eight, while we have seven. China has the most medals total, at 18, while the U.S. has 14.

Gymnastics Team Falls to Russia in Qualifying Round

The U.S. women’s gymnastics team has won every meet they’ve competed in for the past 11 years. So it was a shock when they ended up in second behind the Russian Olympic Committee at the end of the qualifying round on Sunday. 

The team looked awful compared to usual. Star gymnast Simone Biles stepped entirely off the mat on the floor exercise and took three giant steps backward after her beam dismount. She’s known for failing to stick her landings, but in these cases, it looked like she wasn’t even trying.

Nerves got the best of Biles’ 20-year-old training partner, Jordan Chiles, who failed to qualify for any of the individual events. 

Earlier this month, Tom Forster, the high performance team coordinator for the U.S. women’s gymnastics team, made a controversial selection of athletes for the team. He selected based on how the women placed at the Olympic trials instead of building a team that was balanced on the various apparatuses, which would have allowed the team to generate more points. At the time, he defended the decision, saying, “We’re so, so fortunate that our athletes are so strong that I don’t think it’s going to come down to tenths of a point in Tokyo. We didn’t feel like it was worth changing the integrity of the process simply for a couple of tenths.” 

Now that we lost in the qualifying round, it seems like that hubris was a mistake.

Basketball Team Loses to France

Basketball is a purely American sport, and since it was added to the Olympics in 1936, the men have won gold 15 out of 19 times. The U.S. men also maintained a 24-game winning streak at the Olympics that dated back to 2004. And yet, on Sunday the men fell to France 83-76. Who knew the French could play basketball?

We can place some of the blame on the absence of stars like LeBron James and Stephen Curry. They both declined to participate in the games. James said that he wanted to rest his body before the start of the 2021 NBA season, while Curry said, “it just wasn’t the right thing for me and the right time.”

It looks like the greed of saving their bodies for NBA games got in the way of representing their country. 

Bronze in … Skateboarding?

Skateboarding is new to the Olympics, and even though this California-invented sport is 100 percent American, we only won bronze in the men’s street event on Sunday. Jagger Eaton of Arizona (who has the perfect name for a skateboarder) placed behind Japan’s Yuto Horigome and Brazil’s Kelvin Hoefler.

American Nyjah Huston was widely expected to win, but he came in seventh after falling four times in a row in the final. Watch him wipe out below. 

Triathlon Start Botched

The men’s triathlon kicked off disastrously Monday morning when the starter began the race while a large boat was blocking half of the athletes from diving into the water. When the boat tried to move out of the way of some of the swimming athletes, it almost rammed into some of the men behind it. 

“Women” Are Getting the Spotlight

“The Olympics will be a showcase for amazing women athletes,” said the progressive news outlet NowThis on Sunday over a video of Simone Biles dismounting from the balance beam. Great, that’s wonderful. 

Oh, but of course, the video then flashes to weightlifter Laurel Hubbard, who is most definitely not a woman

“While men’s sports usually dominate sports coverage,” the video continues, “many badass women are getting a deserving spotlight in Tokyo instead.”

You know who’s not getting the spotlight? The actual women whose place Hubbard took. 

Some Positive Notes

American Lee Kiefer, who is entering her fourth year of medical school at the University of Kentucky, defeated Russian Inna Deriglazova Sunday in women’s foil to win the gold medal, becoming the first American to medal in the event. This girl’s reaction to winning gold is great. Her husband, Gerek Meinhardt, is on the men’s fencing team and is starting at the University of Kentucky’s medical school in the fall. 

Ellie Gardey
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Ellie Gardey is Reporter and Associate Editor at The American Spectator. Follow her on Twitter @EllieGardey.
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