COLORADO SPRINGS— There is a mixed reaction from members of Team USA after Japan banned spectators from attending the Olympics, which are only two weeks away.
“The Olympics are still happening and I am so grateful to have this opportunity to compete,” Team USA Pentathlete Samantha Shultz said.
It’s been an unprecedented and historical journey, the pandemic not only postponed the games, but it also challenged athletes to train in new ways.
Members of Team USA Wrestling found themselves practicing at local parks and open spaces to keep up with training.
“As time progressed the National Team would travel to different states in order to get around protocols,” said Patrick Martinez, member of Team USA Wrestling.
It’s been more than a year since the pandemic, and Olympic athletes just got slammed with another hurdle, after it was announced fans won’t be allowed in venues due to a surge in COVID-19 cases in Japan.
“For me, personally, growing up that’s all I wanted to have a nice cheering section at the Olympics, and for these athletes to not have that?” Martinez said.
It will be the first time, fans won’t be allowed to watch the Olympics; which is prompting many athletes to question the impact it’ll have on their performance.
“Athletes aren’t allowed to engage with each other and have to be distanced, so the whole ‘team’ element has been taken away, it’s hardly ‘Team USA’— it’s you as an athlete going for the medal,” said Morgan Flaharty, with Team USA Wrestling. “It’s a sporting event at this point instead of this celebration of this worldwide athletes.”
Politics are also taking center stage with top republicans asking for the removal of some team USA athletes over planned protests.
“It’s hard because I know a lot of people have strong beliefs and they want to represent that on the biggest stage, but we need to remember we are part of Team USA and that’s the team that we represent,” said Schultz.