Simone Biles answered some fan questions on Instagram on Friday amid the opening ceremony for the Summer Games in Tokyo, addressing her glaring absence.
In an Instagram story, Biles explained that the U.S. team considered the threat of COVID-19 and the time athletes would be standing at the ceremony as reasons not to go.
The U.S. gymnastics team begins competition the following day, Biles said, and “it wouldn’t be smart” to attend the opening.
The American team is “focused on preparation” and therefore wouldn’t be marching in the opening ceremony, Meredith Yeoman, a USA Gymnastics spokesperson, told The New York Times.
While Biles and her teammates absent, some members of the U.S. Olympic team did appear at the opening ― including basketball players Sue Bird and Eddy Alvarez, who acted as flag bearers.
The U.S. delegation of Olympians this year is one of the largest ever, with more than 610 athletes. Due to the number of Olympians competing and the pandemic, athletes have been told to arrive in Tokyo five days before their events and to leave within two days of their final competition.