Simone Biles’ sponsors made statements of support on Wednesday after her decision to withdraw from Thursday’s individual and multiple gymnastics competition at the Tokyo Olympics.
The 24-year-old champion cited mental health issues as the reason for her earlier withdrawal from team competition on Tuesday in interviews with reporters in Tokyo. Biles could still make it to the individual finals next week.
Kyle Andrew, Head of Athleta Brand, said the sportswear company stood by Biles’ side and supported his well-being “both in and out of competition.” Biles signed a sponsorship deal with Athleta earlier this year after terminating his contract with Nike.
“Being the best is also knowing how to take care of yourself,” Andrew told CNN Business by email on Wednesday. “We are inspired by her leadership today and we support her every step of the way.”
On Tuesday, Biles said she would take the rest of the Olympics “one day at a time” as she looked to add to her tally of four gold medals won at the Rio 2016 Olympics.
Visa, another athlete sponsor, recognizes Biles’ “incredibly courageous decision”, said Andrea Fairchild, senior vice president of global sponsorship strategy. The decision “shows how much Simone is able to inspire both on and off the mat.”
Biles is one of 102 Olympic athlete sponsors Visa in conjunction with its Team Visa program. “We wish him well for the days to come,” added Fairchild.
Protein shake brand Core Power tweeted Wednesday morning that Biles “is showing us all that his courage and strength extend far beyond the mat.”
“We are in awe of you today and every day,” the company added on Twitter with a goat emoji – a reference to GOAT, or the best of all time.
Core Power told CNN Business that it has partnered with Biles for the past six years and has been one of its brand ambassadors since 2016. The company has launched a new ad campaign featuring Biles June 29.
“We have supported his physical recovery with Core Power protein shakes, and as a company, we unequivocally support his full health,” the company said via email.
U.S. team sponsor United Airlines did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday morning. The company told sports news site Sportico that it has been proud to partner with Biles for years and continues to support her.
Uber Eats, which featured Biles in its “Tonight I’ll Eat” ads late last year, said on Wednesday it was backing her as well.
“She has shown real strength both inside and outside the gym, setting an incredible example for athletes around the world,” the company said.
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