Piers Morgan Rejects Criticism Over Contrasting Ben Stokes, Simone Biles Reactions

Piers Morgan has rejected comparisons between his reaction to England cricketer Ben Stokes stepping back from sport to focus on his mental health and his response to Simone Biles' withdrawal from several Olympic gymnastics finals.

The former Good Morning Britain host was one of the most vocal critics of Biles in the wake of her decision to withdraw from several events citing mental health concerns.

Shortly after her exit was first announced, Morgan tweeted: "Are 'mental health issues' now the go-to excuse for any poor performance in elite sport? What a joke."

He continued: "Just admit you did badly, made mistakes, and will strive to do better next time. Kids need strong role models, not this nonsense."

Morgan followed that up with another attack in a column for the Daily Mail, where he wrote: "Sorry if it offends all the howling Twitter snowflake virtue-signallers, but I don't think it's remotely courageous, heroic or inspiring to quit."

Prior the the Olympics, Morgan had also attacked four-time grand slam winning tennis star Naomi Osaka after she withdrew from the French Open and skipped Wimbledon in order to focus on her mental health.

On Friday, it was announced that Stokes would miss the England cricket team's upcoming series against India and could also be absent from the T20 World and Ashes.

Official Statement: Ben Stokes

— England Cricket (@englandcricket) July 30, 2021

Fans were told the all-rounder, who lost his father last year, would be taking a break in order to "prioritise his mental wellbeing."

In the wake of the announcement, many on Twitter were quick to question Morgan's reaction to the news—with the former newspaper editor and avid cricket fan refraining from any criticism of Stokes' decision.

Former journalist Amar Singh wrote: "Waiting for that explanation from Piers Morgan as to why Ben Stokes won't get the same treatment from him as Simone Biles."

Author Charles Cumming agreed: "Interesting to see how @piersmorgan reacts to this post-Simone Biles."

BBC present Dan Walker also appeared to note the disparity.

"Interesting to see if those who were so quick to condemn Simone Biles have anything to say about Ben Stokes," he wrote.

Several others, meanwhile, weighed in with tweets criticizing Morgan for an apparent double standard on the issue.

Can't wait for @piersmorgan to show Ben Stokes the same sympathy he did Simone Biles. 🤔🧐🤨

— Food, Fun and Forest 🍗🍰🥳🎉🌳🌲 (@FoodFunForest) July 30, 2021

Wonder if Piers Morgan will attack Ben Stokes with as much hate as he did Simone Biles?

— Lynn Braben Working Class Hero is something to be (@LynnBraben) July 31, 2021

Wonder if Piers Morgan will be going after Ben Stokes in the same manner he has gone for Simone Biles and Naomi Osaka 🤔

— Amy (@blue_nose_amy) July 30, 2021

In response to such comments, Morgan refused to back down over his previous remarks, arguing instead that Stokes' situation was markedly different from that of Biles and Osaka.

Noting the fact that Stokes was withdrawing, in part, due to "a busted finger" Morgan tweeted: "I'm sure Ben Stokes wouldn't call his decision to pull out of the massive India Test series 'tremendously courageous', 'inspiring' or 'heroic', as some are saying."

He added "Nor would I. England will be weaker without him & I hope he's back for the Ashes."

And due to a busted finger.. I’m sure Ben Stokes wouldn’t call his decision to pull out of the massive India Test series ‘tremendously courageous’, ‘inspiring’ or ‘heroic’, as some are saying.
Nor would I. England will be weaker without him & I hope he’s back for the Ashes. https://t.co/H5lKG38lx3

— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) July 31, 2021

Another follower on Twitter asked Morgan if Stokes had "let down his teammates and country" by stepping back—an accusation he previously leveled at Biles—but Morgan rejected that suggestion.

"If he quit in the middle of a Test match with no physical injury, leaving his teammates in the lurch like Simone Biles did, and complained he wasn't having enough 'fun', then I would have said that," Morgan replied.

"Especially if he had 'GOAT' embroidered on his shirt. But he didn't. So I didn't."

If he quit in the middle of a Test match with no physical injury, leaving his teammates in the lurch like Simon Biles did, & complained he wasn’t having enough ‘fun’, then I would have said that. Especially if he had GOAT embroidered on his shirt.
But he didn’t. So I didn’t. https://t.co/AGHoQb94Hd

— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) July 31, 2021

When fellow journalist Georgie Bingham attempted to argue that that description didn't apply to Osaka, Morgan countered: "Osaka quit mid-tournament because she didn't want to be asked any negative questions by the media... for any journalist to support that is embarrassing."

Another BBC reporter, Natalie Pirks, then attempted to highlight a common thread between Morgan's criticism of Osaka, Biles and Meghan Markle and the omission of Stokes from any similar criticis..

She wrote in a tweet that has since been deleted: "So after all that bluster, it really was just the young, black woman with mental health issues he had the problem with? Sounds familiar—one's a queen, the other's a duchess."

Morgan once again rebuffed those claims and criticized Pirks over her remarks.

"Are BBC sports correspondents allowed to engage in such disgraceful race-baiting?" he wrote.

"I never criticise people based on their skin colour—shame on you for suggesting I do."

Newsweek has reached out to Morgan for comment.

Simone Biles, Piers Morgan and Ben Stokes.
Simone Biles, Piers Morgan and Ben Stokes - the Good Morning Britain presenter has been criticized for his contrasting treatment of the two athletes. Stu Forster/MWE/GC/Fred Lee/Getty