Olympic swimmer to media: No more interviews after ‘disappointing’ performances


U.S. Olympic swimmer Simone Manuel is telling media outlets to stop interviewing athletes “after a disappointing performance,” saying athletes should be treated as human beings first.

“Please stop interviewing athletes right after a disappointing performance before they have any time to process anything. Trust me. They gave it their all. Nothing else people need to know at that time,” Manuel wrote in a Twitter thread on Friday.

“The amount of people who say we’re just sore losers or that we are ‘obligated’ to do the interviews is problematic. Lack of empathy for athletes is problematic. As someone who studied communication in college with multiple journalism classes, I understand the role of media,” she continued.

Manuel said she was not attacking the media but wanted them to understand the emotional and physical toll answering questions after a tough competition can have on athletes.

“Just give us a moment. The story can wait. Empathy and kindness is the most important thing we need in that moment,” Manuel said.

Manuel is not the first athlete to raise objections regarding talking to the press. Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka was fined $15,000 in May for refusing to talk to the press after she won her first match at the French Open. 

In a statement posted to Twitter at the time, Osaka said that she would not be speaking to press, saying, “I’ve often felt that people have no regard for athletes mental health and this rings very true whenever I see a press conference or partake in one.”

“We’re often sat there and asked questions that we’ve been asked multiple times before or asked questions that bring doubt into our minds and I’m just not going to subject myself to people that doubt me,” Osaka continued.

Following the fine that tennis officials issued her in France, Osaka later withdrew from the French Open and several weeks later announced she would not play at the U.K.’s Wimbledon to take “some personal time with friends and family.”

Along with Osaka and Manuel, U.S. gymnast Simone Biles has also emphasized the need for athletes to prioritize their mental health after she withdrew from several Olympic events citing mental health.

Biles has pushed back at critics who claimed she gave up too readily, saying, “I didn’t quit, my mind and body are simply not in sync,” according to NBC News.

“I don’t think you realize how dangerous this is on hard/competition surface,” she added. “Nor do I have to explain why I put health first. Physical health is mental health.”

Manuel helped the U.S. swim team win bronze in the women’s 4×100-meter freestyle relay in Tokyo but failed to advance to the final for the 50-meter freestyle.

Tags 2020 Tokyo Olympics Naomi Osaka Olympics Simone Biles Simone Manuel

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