��The Olympic Gymnastics Event Finals Are Unsatisfying and Unsafe

There will be no exclusion of the apparatus finals in Olympic gymnasticsvault for women and uneven barsfor men; floor and the dreadful pommel horsefor men without a full-throated recognition and appreciation of the ice water veins and killer instincts of one MyKayla skinner, former 2016 Olympic alternate; former Utah Ute and current Olympic vault silver medalist. Skinners journey took her from Rios tweeting enfant quasi terrible to fiery NCAA star to an elite comeback that almost no one believed possible (I did!). Now, against all odds, Skinner is adorned with a large amount of silver. Rebeca Andrade, Brazil's first ever gymnastics gold medalist, was just a little bit ahead of her. She had the most impressive pair of skills and she won the Cheng-Amanar vaults, the achievement that has been her goal all her life. It was a feat she accomplished with the same tenacity that all of us are lucky to have for even one day. Advertisement Advertisement Advertisement This was the good news. The rest of Tokyo's inaugural event finals night was a disaster. The absence of sports' biggest star Simone Biles, who has now withdrawn from Mondays floor competition, was a major problem for the entire event. Tuesday's beam competition is the only remaining uncertainty. Biles' withdrawal from vault was particularly heartbreaking. This is the event where she has mastered two extremely difficult skills, and flies with amazing amplitude and near perfect execution. There was also everything else that happened. With some notable exceptions, you could call it the apparatus fall-nals. Sorry. That joke may be due to the fact that I stayed awake until 4 AM to see the most amazing gymnasts the world has ever seen. The worst part? It didn't have to be this way. Advertisement FIG won't allow gymnasts to warm up safely so they can compete at their best. It thinks it's better to watch the greatest gymnasts in the world struggle. Let me tell you what happened. First, I felt my stomach sink as Nikita Nagornyy, the Russian Olympic Committee's usually-stunning Nikita Nagornyy displayed his triple back piked saltoonly. He almost landed on the landing and stumbled out of bounds several times. Things got worse when Yul Moldauer (the stick king and U.S. medal hope), stumbled through his nontumbling flare sequence which he normally has on autopilot. Everyone else was fine, with the exception of Artem Dolgopyat from Israel and Reyderley Zapata from Spain (tie broke in Dolgopyats favor due to a higher difficulty score). The floorworkers who were the best in the world were more or less choked. According to Kyle Shewfelt, Canadian Olympic medalist in 2004, the floor final was a disaster. Advertisement Advertisement It got worse. Unexpectedly, the podium for women's vault was as delightful as Skinner, Andrade, and South Korea's Yeo Seo Jeong, who finally nailed her legendary double-twisting handspring front layout. There was someone missing. Some gymnastics fans may be curious about Jade Carey's fate, who was a gold medal favorite and qualified for these Olympics as an individual event specialist. Carey, in fact, outscored Skinner in qualifying with a cleaner, higher Cheng and Amanar, temporarily booting Skinner out of the final thanks to the two-gymnasts-per-country rule, before Biles withdrawal summoned Skinner back. What happened? So what happened? Carey has one more chance to win floor, her signature event. However, a vault medal was expected to be her only option. (Later, America's bar genius Suni Lee would give up after four meets and fall to exhaustion. She defaulted to her simpler routine, earning bronze. Advertisement Advertisement The worst thing about it? Carey's mishap was due to a cruel and absurd rule of the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG), which forbids what is called a touch warmup prior to event finals. It was true: The entire event was a dangerous, hot mess because of the rule. A touch warmup is just what it sounds. Before competition, gymnasts are typically allowed to get a feel of the apparatus theyll use. Advertisement Athletes are not warming up enough, which is something that gymnasts do before every competition except the Olympics and World Championships finals. They are not performing at their best, so it is no surprise that they do not compete at their best. This ban is absurd. We, the viewers, want every gymnast to be able to perform the most amazing routines in their lives. Instead, viewers are treated to mat-eating as the FIG insists that a touch warm up (which only takes five minutes) breaks broadcast continuity. Accordingly to the FIG council minutes for 2010, this impedes broadcast quality and makes viewers slightly bored. It also prolongs broadcast time, which is not the case with, for example, a 20-minute elaborate medal ceremony that looks identically like every other one at the Olympics. This is just ridiculous television. (An email to FIG to inquire about the origin of the rule has not been returned. A Change.org petition to amend it closed at 1,500 signatures at the time of writing. Advertisement It is worth mentioning that the governing body for gymnastics refuses gymnasts safe warm-ups so they can compete at their best. Because it is more entertaining to watch the best gymnasts on Earth fight. This unfortunate Olympiad has brought much of the nonsense about diversity, inclusion, athlete safety, and athlete centeredness. For a second, I thought that there might be an opportunity to do a quick FIG over-face in order to get the GOAT back on the competition floor. She has, as almost every other gymnast, requested a warmup during event finals. It seems that not even the possibility of attracting the sport's biggest ratings draw can convince its authorities to prioritize safety and performance. Lucky usand even luckier gymnasts, the broadcast length of the two event finals in the coming weeks will be perfect. This will allow us to enjoy uninterrupted viewing of the entertainment value of athletes needlessly achieving their goals, provided their bodies are healthy.