Simone Biles' Sponsors Stand By Her After Withdrawal From Team, All-Around Competition

Simone Biles' sponsors, including Athleta and Visa, showed their support and stood by her decision to withdraw from the team and all-around Olympic gymnastics competition for her mental health, the Associated Press reported.

"We stand by Simone and support her well-being both in and out of competition. Being the best also means knowing how to take care of yourself. We are inspired by her leadership today and are behind her every step of the way," Athleta said.

Visa published a similar statement and called her decision "incredibly brave."

Nabisco called Biles an "inspiration to us all."

Core Power also showed its support and said Biles is "showing us all that her courage and strength extend will beyond the mat."

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Sponsors Supports Biles' Decision to Withdraw
Simone Biles' sponsors, like Athleta and Visa, stood by her decision to withdraw from the team and all-around Olympic gymnastics competition. Above, Biles competes in the women's team finals during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Ariake Gymnastics Centre on July 27, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan, right before she withdrew. Iris van der Broek/ BSR Agency/Getty Images

It's the latest example of sponsors praising athletes who are increasingly open about mental health issues. Tennis star Naomi Osaka found widespread support when she withdrew from the French Open earlier this year.

Biles has a solid history of gymnastic accomplishments, including four gold medals and a bronze medal at the 2016 Olympics. She has earned five more all-around titles in world championships since 2013. That earns the 24-year-old a lasting athletic legacy that sponsors can capitalize on.

"We are past the time when athletes like Simone are valued simply for their athletic prowess," said Jim Andrews, founder of A-Mark Partnership Strategies. "She has earned a place in gymnastics history, and has proven herself to be an amazing spokesperson and influencer who has much to offer brands even without competing and eventually in retirement."

Biles split with longtime sponsor Nike in April to sign with Athleta, the athletic clothing arm of Gap. Biles' deal with Athleta includes sponsorship of the Gold Over America victory tour, which will star her as well as other USA Gymnastics team members later this year.

At the time, Biles said she signed with Athleta over Nike because she wanted to be aligned with a brand more reflective of her values.

"I feel like they work very closely with women and girls and letting them have a voice and kind of breaking those beauty standards," Biles said in May.

Biles launched her first ad campaign with Athleta in June, including a video that showcases the people that have supported her through her rise to superstardom.

Dropping support of Biles would hurt a brand more than it would help, said David Carter, sports business professor at the University of Southern California, and founder of marketing consultancy Sports Business Group.

"Given the fluidity and high-profile nature of the situation, as well as the sensitivities associated with her reasoning behind withdrawing, sponsors must be very careful not to be perceived as cutting and running," he said.

"Doing so would not only draw the ire of many consumers who staunchly support Biles, but also future athletes contemplating marketing relationships with any brands deemed tone deaf to the circumstances involved."

Sponsors Stand By Biles' Decision to Withdraw
Simone Biles of the United States waits to perform on the vault during the artistic gymnastics women's team finals at the 2020 Summer Olympics on July 27, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. The American gymnastics superstar withdrew from competition to focus on her mental well-being. Gregory Bull/Associated Press