- Title: Beijing Olympics can be a force for change says Vonn
- Date: 23rd June 2021
- Summary: NEW YORK, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES (JUNE 23, 2021) (REUTERS VIA ZOOM) (SOUNDBITE) (English) 2010 WINTER OLYMPIC SKIING GOLD MEDALIST, LINDSEY VONN, SAYING ON SUPPORT DOGS: "For me, I think it's amazing because you know I needed my dog, Lucy, when I travelled on the road with me and I actually brought her to the Olympics in 2018, and it was a huge help to me, you know, I think emotional support dogs are a really important and can really help with a lot of different things; anxiety, depression and I think you know what these athletes that are going into their first Olympics there's a lot of pressure and a lot of anxiety and this programme can really be very beneficial for these athletes and hopefully this is creating a long term programme because I think it's pretty amazing."
- Embargoed: 7th July 2021 19:34
- Keywords: Beijing 2022 Lindsey Vonn mental health winter Olympics
- Location: NEW YORK, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES / VARIOUS OTHER LOCATIONS
- City: NEW YORK, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES / VARIOUS OTHER LOCATIONS
- Country: USA
- Topics: Olympics,Sport,United States
- Reuters ID: LVA00EEIMI0CF
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Former Olympic champion Lindsey Vonn says athletes should be allowed to protest away from the podium at the Winter Olympics over human rights issues and that if they do so the games can be a catalyst for change.
Next year's games will take place in Beijing, and both the IOC and the local organisers have faced criticism over alleged human rights abuses in China, with some groups calling for athletes to boycott the event.
Vonn said that she had spoken to the IOC on the issue, and was confident athletes would be allowed to "speak their minds".
"I think if people if athletes want to boycott that's their prerogative and their right, but I think there is usually a balance that is struck with the Olympics and hopefully the Olympics come off without a hitch and again people can express their opinions and hopefully changes in certain places are made but you know that's I think one of the great things about the Olympics is that it can shed a lot of light on really important topics, not just about sports," she said.
Speaking in New York on Wednesday (June 23) on Olympic Day in an ambassadorial role to promote a better understanding of mental health challenges athletes face, Vonn added that she wished she had been able to talk earlier about problems she faced in her glittering career.
She also expressed support for tennis player Naomi Osaka, who pulled out of the French Open and Wimbledon citing mental health concerns, saying there were times when she did not want to speak to the media.
"Every athlete goes through frustrating times, times when you just want to be alone or you know kind of being in a place where you can process your thoughts and your performance by yourself," she said. "But you know, media is part of the job and I always looked at that way, and from my perspective, which is obviously only my perspective, I felt like it was important to always be available to the media because especially in a sport like skiing, if we don't have media and we don't have fans, then we don't have a sport, so you know I I try to have a good balance and always keep that in perspective."
Vonn was also helping to launch a project backed by Olympic sponsor Allianz, in which skateboard athletes in Los Angeles who are going to Tokyo 2020, including Brazil's Leticia Bufoni and the USA's Dashawn Jordan, will be given emotional support dogs to help relieve stress and anxiety. Vonn said that taking her own dog, Lucy, to the Winter Olympics in 2018 had been a big help to her.
(Production: Iain Axon)
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