The Famous Faces You Won’t See at This Year’s Olympic Games

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With the Tokyo Olympics Opening Ceremony kicking off at 9pm AEST Friday, July 23, it’s time to warm up your voice and get ready to cheer at the TV as some of the world’s best athletes come together to compete at the Games.

There will be a number of renowned female athletes taking the stage at the Olympics, with Team Australia including recent Wimbledon winner Ash Barty, swimmer Cate Campbell, runner Genevieve Gregson and surfer Stephanie Gilmore. Other well-known athletes you’ll see at the Games include Naomi Osaka, Simone Biles and Katie Ledecky.

But there are a number of athletes that we won’t see in Tokyo this year, There are various reasons why these athletes have decided to pull out, from concerns around safety given Japan’s rising number of COVID-19 infections, to unfortunately having tested positive for the virus. Here are a few of the female athletes who aren’t attending this year’s Games.

Elizabeth Cambage

Aussie basketball star Liz Cambage recently announced that she was withdrawing from the Tokyo Olympics due to mental health concerns. Cambage explained on Instagram that the thought of going into the Olympic “bubble” was causing her undue stress and as such, she wouldn’t be playing with the Opals.

“It’s no secret that in the past I’ve struggled with my mental health and recently, I’ve been really worried about heading into a ‘bubble’ Olympics,” Cambage wrote. “No family. No friends. No fans. No support system outside of my team. It’s honestly terrifying for me. The past month I have been having panic attacks, not sleeping and not eating.”

Serena Williams

Serena Williams has decided to skip the Tokyo Olympics as well, telling reporters: โ€œThereโ€™s a lot of reasons that I made my Olympic decision. I donโ€™t really want to . . . I donโ€™t feel like going into them today. Maybe another day. Sorry.โ€

Travelling to the Olympics without her family was a concern for Williams, who told a reporter in May that going without her three-year-old daughter Olympia would be difficult. “Thatโ€™s a really good question,โ€ Williams said. โ€œI havenโ€™t spent 24 hours without her, so that kind of answers the question itself. Weโ€™re best friends.โ€

Rose Stackpole

Australian synchronised swimmer Rose Stackpole also won’t be attending the Tokyo Olympics, despite being a part of the original 2020 Australian artistic swimming team. When the Olympics were delayed last year, Stackpole decided to retire, announcing the news in August 2020. Stackpole’s replacement in the team is Hannah Burkhill.

Coco Gauff

American tennis player Coco Gauff will also, unfortunately, be missing the Games due to recently testing positive for COVID-19. The 17-year-old took to Twitter to announce the news and wish Team USA the best of luck in the Games.

“It has always been a dream of mine to represent the USA at the Olympics, and I hope there will be many more chances for me to make this come true in the future,” Gauff wrote. “I want to wish TEAM USA best of luck and a safe games for every Olympian and the entire Olympic family.”

Amy Cure

Australian track cyclist Amy Cure was selected for the Australian Olympic Team in March 2020, but with the postponement of the Games, decided to retire before it was staged. Cure announced the news that her 12-year career representing Australia was coming to an end in June 2020.

โ€œItโ€™s one of the most difficult decisions I have had to make,โ€ Cure said. โ€œI feel the same as I do on the start line at an Olympic Games or World Championships. Iโ€™m incredibly nervous, but also so excited for the unknown.โ€

Caster Semenya

South African athletics star Caster Semenya won’t appear at the Tokyo Olympics, as she is ineligible for the event she has dominated for a decade. This is because Semenya doesn’t meet the World Athletics rules for female athletes’ natural testosterone levels (as Semenya is intersex), which means to be eligible to compete, she must take medications that lower her hormone levels or have surgery. And, this is something Semenya doesn’t want to do, which is fair enough.

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