Sponsors of Simone Biles, Athleta, Visa and Visa, applaud her decision to withdraw from the Olympics gymnastics team competition due to mental health issues.
It’s the latest example of sponsors praising athletes who are increasingly open about mental health issues. Tennis star Naomi Osaka found widespread support when she withdrew from the French Open earlier this year.
Biles could still participate in other gymnastic events at the Olympics. Biles has a long history of gymnastic achievements, including four gold medals as well as a bronze medal at 2016 Olympics. Since 2013, she has won five more all-around world championship titles. This gives the 24-year old a legacy of athletic excellence that sponsors can capitalize on.
Jim Andrews, founder and CEO of A-Mark Partnership Strategies said that it is past the point when athletes like Simone were valued solely for their athletic prowess. She has been a great spokesperson and influencer, even though she has not competed and will eventually retire.
Biles parted ways with Nike, her long-term sponsor in April to sign for Athleta. Athleta is the Gap’s athletic clothing arm. Biles’ agreement with Athleta includes sponsorship of the Gold Over America victory tours later in the year. This will feature her and other USA Gymnastics team members.
Biles stated that she signed with Athleta instead of Nike because she wanted to align with a brand that was more representative of her values.
Biles stated in May that she felt like the girls worked very closely with women.
Biles’ first Athleta ad campaign was launched in June. It featured a video featuring her supporters as she rose to stardom.
After Biles’ withdrawal from Tokyo, Athleta released a statement supporting Biles.
Athleta stated, “We stand behind Simone and support their well-being both inside and outside of competition.” Being the best means taking care of yourself. We are inspired by her leadership and support her every step of her journey.”