In light of Sha’Carri Richardson’s disqualification from the 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games, fellow track and field star Gabby Thomas expressed her sadness in those choosing to boycott the Olympics rather than watch athletes like her who are still set to compete.
“It really hurts to see so many Black people choosing not to watch the Olympics this year,” Gabby tweeted on July 6. “There are so many Black athletes who have put in YEARS of hard work for this moment — myself included. We want your support.”
“Additionally, I worry some of the anger and disdain may be misplaced,” the 24-year-old Harvard graduate added. “The ‘Olympics’ and those at the IOC have nothing to do with current events taking place.”
MADAME NOIRE has extensively covered Richardson’s Olympic journey as she made mainstream waves when her record-breaking run and the Track and Field Olympic Trials which landed her a spot on the U.S. Team. Unfortunately, a drug test revealed Richardson had consumed marijuana — a decision that subsequently costed her spot on the U.S. team.
For the record, Gabby also had a stunning performance at the Trials and finished the women’s 200 meters in only 21.61 seconds.
In the replies to her tweet, Twitter users had mixed responses. A variety of them included:
“Just because we aren’t watching doesn’t mean we aren’t cheering you on. I know. I’m white. But my kids are black and I never thought I’d see the day when even the Olympics would discriminate against them. Sad world we live in.”
“I think Black people in Africa, Europe, Canada and the Caribbean will be watching… Black identifying Americans need to qualify themselves better when commenting on a global platform.”
“The ppl who are saying they aren’t going to watch likely weren’t going to be watching to begin with, because if you are a fan of the Olympics, you are watching regardless… so no worries! It sucks that this is going on, but folks gone be watchin!”
and “I just can’t. Not one but 4 athletes were discriminated against and everyone is focusing on respectability politics. They need us, ratings wise to make that money. Sick of it. Also how do you ban a cap for hair when do you know how much work it takes to tame natural hair?”
As the latter pointed out, many are choosing to boycott the Tokyo Games due to the number of headline-worthy stories in recent weeks with regards to Black female athletes’ abilities to compete and their struggles faced leading up to this year’s Olympics.
MADAME NOIRE recently reported that 2016 Olympic champion Brianna McNeal also won’t be competing in the Tokyo Games and received a 5-year ban after missing a drug test because she was recovering from getting an abortion.
Five African female athletes have been disqualified from the games due to their naturally high testosterone levels.
FINA, the federation for international competitions in water sports, banned the usage of swim caps that are suitable for swimmers with kinky curly hair. Gwen Berry made headlines after protesting “The Star-Spangled Banner” at the Olympic Track and Field Trials and expressed feeling “set up” by the USA Track and Field’s decision to play the song. Relatedly, while Naomi Osaka has committed to competing in the Olympic Games, she recently withdrew from the French Open, German Open, and Wimbledon in an effort to prioritize her mental health — an aspect of athletes’ wellbeing she claims the media and sports organizations don’t take seriously enough.
In a now-deleted tweet, Radar Online reported that Sha’Carri responded to Gabby’s tweet by posting, “Athletes that haven’t and will never beat me have a lot to say about or surrounding my situation. When most of them have said nothing to me showing their characters that y’all don’t see behind the races.”
The 21-year old sprinter said, “The attention that is on track now and was because of very very few names. So if that’s where fans support lay, you can’t be mad at that.”
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