It’s led the British Olympic Association (BOA) to assemble a team of ten mental health experts and specialists. The team will head to Tokyo with British athletes in an effort to monitor their anxiety and stress levels. In a statement, the BOA explained, “We already took mental health very seriously but we recognise such [mental health] issues have never been more acute in everyday life. This mental health team is part of our preparation for what will be a very different Olympic Games.”
All team GB athletes and support staff will be fully vaccinated before departing for Tokyo, thanks to an agreement between the IOC and Pfizer BioNtech. But while the IOC has said it expects more than 80 per cent of Games participants to be vaccinated by the time the Olympics begins on July 23, it will be far from business as usual in the Olympic village. Rather than mingle with other athletes, Olympic competitors will be required to spend long periods of time in their rooms and avoid mixing with others. Meal times will be brief, with the Times reporting that athletes will be instructed to remain two-metres apart and vacate the area as soon as they’re finished eating.
When you consider the sense of alienation most of us have experienced isolating at home, the impact this could have on the psyche of athletes can’t be underestimated. It’s one thing for a gold medallist to reflect on their victory in their room, but for those who have made countless sacrifices and spent their whole lives training for one event, only to see their hopes dashed, going back to a room in a foreign country with limited support staff and no family or friends is incredibly concerning. We can only hope mental health experts do all they can to monitor the wellbeing of athletes and ensure that their mental health is a priority.