OLYMPIC UTAH

Utah Sports Psychologist: Pandemic, Lack Of Fans Add To Mental Pressure For Olympic Athletes

Jul 27, 2021, 8:29 PM | Updated: Jul 14, 2023, 1:32 pm

TOKYO  The Tokyo Olympic Games are definitely different, and we knew it had the potential to throw athletes off their normal routines.

Normally, they do a lot of mental training to block out all the noise, but even Simone Biles said Tuesday that competing in an empty arena created added stress.

The KSL Olympic crew spoke with a sports psychologist with Intermountain Healthcare before they left for Tokyo, who told them that adjusting to the quiet might not be as easy as it sounds.

The rings are a big part of any Olympics, and while that’s true for Tokyo, there is one element of these Games that will be noticeably missing.

No crowds could make things very different mentally for what some athletes are used to.

“I’d say mental aspect is even more important than the physical aspect,” said Tony KemmochiPsy. D., sports psychologist with Intermountain Healthcare.

Kemmochi has experience working with high-performance athletes.

He said empty stands could affect some of them, especially knowing it’s because of COVID.

“With some athletes, what if they had some kind of trauma related to COVID already? Maybe they had lost a loved one to COVID, stuff like that, right? That may trigger some of the loss they experienced in the past,” said Kemmochi.

And when an athlete is trying to live up to an image, Kemmochi said that’s where one can start to get in trouble mentally.

“Many people expect athletes to be strong and put together, and sometimes, athletes take that and internalize and feel like they just can’t be a human,” he said.

The U.S. Olympic Committee has made mental health a priority for its athletes.

Don’t be surprised if an athlete takes a little more time to prepare mentally before taking off.

Like with everyone the past year, they’re adjusting.

“I do hope athletes can learn how to express and let it out, but at the same time, you don’t have to overdo it to the point that you feel too thrown off,” said Kemmochi.

KSL’s Alex Cabrero talked to another Olympian — climber Kyra Condie from Salt Lake City — who said one of her biggest struggles would not be having her parents in Tokyo to cheer her on.

It’s still unclear tonight if Simone Biles will return for the individual event competitions, which start Wednesday in Tokyo.

KSL 5 TV Live

Olympic Utah

Salt Lake Tri Club training for the running part of the race....

Tamara Vaifanua

Get in the Games: Triathlons push athletes to their limits

The combination of swimming, biking, and running make up the Olympic sport of triathlons. It’s an individual sport, but some athletes prefer training with a team.

6 days ago

The 2002 Olympic cauldron at the Olympic and Paralympic Cauldron Plaza at the University of Utah in...

Lisa Riley Roche

Utah is now one vote away from hosting the 2034 Winter Games. Here’s what just happened

Utah’s bid to host the 2034 Winter Games is headed to a final vote by the International Olympic Committee in July.

8 days ago

A basketball hoop at the Adaptive Arena in Bluffdale, which is a gym made for kids with some disabi...

Alex Cabrero

Get In The Games: Adaptive Arena welcomes kids with disabilities to play sports

A new gym is welcoming kids with a disability to play sports that are specifically designed for their needs.

28 days ago

IZU, JAPAN - JULY 27: Haley Batten of Team United States rides during the Women's Cross-country rac...

Alex Cabrero

Park City mountain biker training to compete in her second Olympics

Haley Batten who is on the USA Cycling team, competed in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Now, she's training for Paris.

1 month ago

a student dances in a studio...

Alex Cabrero

Get In The Games: ‘Breaking’ Olympic sport has a home in Utah

Once called break dancing, "breaking" is now an Olympic sport, with a place to learn in Utah.

1 month ago

Délice French Bakery and Café is getting ready for the 2024 Olympics in Paris, Italy, the home co...

Shelby Lofton

French bakery in Utah ramping up for Paris 2024 Summer Olympics

The owner of Délice French Bakery and Café in Salt Lake City is preparing for the Olympics in his home country.

2 months ago

Sponsored Articles

Photo courtesy of Artists of Ballet West...

Ballet West

The rising demand for ballet tickets: why they’re harder to get

Ballet West’s box office is experiencing demand they’ve never seen before, leaving many interested patrons unable to secure tickets they want.

Electrician repairing ceiling fan with lamps indoors...

Lighting Design

Stay cool this summer with ceiling fans

When used correctly, ceiling fans help circulate cool and warm air. They can also help you save on utilities.

Side view at diverse group of children sitting in row at school classroom and using laptops...

PC Laptops

5 internet safety tips for kids

Read these tips about internet safety for kids so that your children can use this tool for learning and discovery in positive ways.

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why printer security should be top of mind for your business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light up your home with these top lighting trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for hassle-free computer repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Utah Sports Psychologist: Pandemic, Lack Of Fans Add To Mental Pressure For Olympic Athletes