Following the 2016 Rio Video games, USA Gymnastics was rocked by revelations of systemic abuse of athletes that triggered mass resignations, lawsuits, investigations and chapter filings.
It additionally pressured the introduction of lengthy overdue well being and security protocols that forbid medical personnel, coaches, judges and different occasion workers from having one-on-one time with an athlete, and that can be seen in Tokyo.
“I’ve solely been with the group for a yr and a half so I am unsure what it seemed like in Rio however with SafeSport being in place now we do have …prevention insurance policies,” Kim Kranz, USA Gymnastics head of Athlete Well being and Wellness advised Reuters.
The U.S. Heart for SafeSport is an impartial nonprofit organisation that gives sports activities with guideline on the best way to present protected environments for athletes and coaching for coaches and directors.
USA Gymnastics could have a seven-member medical crew – 5 bodily therapists and two reserves – in Tokyo. “There are many guidelines now (they’ve)… to observe,” Kranz added.
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These embody needing formal consent from athletes to deal with them, utilizing privateness curtains solely when athletes are receiving delicate remedy, and having two adults current when there may be an underage athlete within the medical space.
Most of the new guidelines had been applied within the scramble to repair failures in a system that allowed former USA Gymnastics physician Larry Nassar to prey on a whole lot of younger athletes.
A yr after the Rio Video games, Nassar was sentenced in federal court docket to 60 years in jail on fees of possessing youngster intercourse abuse materials.
The next yr, he was additionally sentenced to as much as 175 years and as much as 125 years, respectively, in two separate Michigan courts for molesting younger feminine gymnasts below his care, together with Olympic gold medalists Aly Raisman and McKayla Maroney.
However at the same time as the present squad led by Biles – herself one of many many who had been abused by Nassar – ready to depart for Tokyo, scandal continued to hold over the game.
On July 14, the U.S. Justice Division’s inner watchdog issued a report that sharply criticized the FBI for dragging its toes on investigating the abuse allegations in opposition to Nassar.
In between, there have been additional disturbing revelations of abuse.
John Geddert, head coach of the U.S. girls’s squad that gained crew gold on the 2012 London Olympics, was charged with sexual assault and human trafficking. He died by suicide on Feb. 26 shortly after court docket paperwork had been filed for his arrest.
Different coaches have been suspended for verbal and emotional abuse of athletes, together with Maggie Haney, who coached one other Rio gold medal winner, Laurie Hernandez.
Kranz conceded that, whereas U.S. gymnasts felt they had been in a protected and guarded atmosphere in Tokyo, it will take for much longer to win again their belief.
“It is going to take time,” she stated. “I feel they’re seeing enchancment however I do not assume the athletes are fairly able to go all in and say, ‘You guys are superior’… It takes a very long time to get that again.”
Requested if, given the scandals, prime therapists and medical personnel had been steering away from gymnastics, she stated: “My guess is probably going early on which may have been the case however I’ve not seen that.”
There have been loads of certified therapists lined up for Olympic assignments and ready to endure shut scrutiny,” she added.
“We’ll vet the individuals who work (with) our medical (groups) very carefully… These are usually individuals the medical crew is aware of however when it isn’t we evaluate their credentials, their work historical past, have had a background examine and SafeSport coaching earlier than they’re allowed to come back out and work.”