Simone Biles’ sponsors, including Athleta and Visa, are lauding her decision to put her mental health first and withdraw from the gymnastics team competition during the Olympics.

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 could still compete in other gymnastic events during the Olympics. She also 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 also includes sponsorship of the Gold Over America victory tour later this year, which will star her as well as other USA Gymnastics team members.

 

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Group: Jailed Belarus journalist needs urgent hospital care

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — The Belarusian Association of Journalists on Thursday called on authorities in Belarus to transfer a jailed journalist to a civilian hospital so he could get treatment for a coronavirus-induced pneumonia he has reportedly developed in detention.

The association said it filed a request with the Interior Ministry's penitentiary department and the Health Ministry to urgently hospitalize Andrei Skurko, head of the advertising and marketing department of the prominent Nasha Niva newspaper. Skurko, who used to be the paper's chief editor from 2006 to 2017, was arrested three weeks ago and is in a pre-trial detention center in Minsk, the capital.

Nasha Niva reported this week that Skurko has been transferred to the facility's medical ward with “structural changes in his lungs,” and his cellmates were placed in quarantine because Skurko was suspected to have been infected with COVID-19.

The newspaper said before Skurko, 43, was moved to the detention facility he is in now, he had spent 13 days in another detention center that is notorious for its harsh conditions, without a bed or a mattress and lacking access to his diabetes medications.

“Andrei Skurko is an insulin-dependent diabetic. For people like him, coronavirus can be deadly,” the Belarusian Association of Journalists said.

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Robinhood CEO tells AP it's eyeing expansion beyond trading

NEW YORK (AP) — Robinhood has already changed how people trade stocks and who's doing it. Now its sights are on the rest of the financial industry.

Shares of Robinhood Markets traded for the first time on the Nasdaq Thursday, following the highly anticipated initial offering by the company that's drawn a new generation of investors into the market and forced the industry to stop charging fees for trading. Shares swung sharply through the day before ending with an 8.4% drop. But while the IPO is a milestone, it's not a culmination, according to CEO Vlad Tenev.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Tenev said he wants Robinhood to be the only app that people use on their phones for money. That covers everything from depositing paychecks to paying bills to splitting payments with friends.

Tenev, who founded Robinhood with fellow Stanford graduate Baiju Bhatt in 2013, also said he accepts how his company has become synonymous with the boom in trading by smaller-pocketed and novice investors, for both good and ill. Such investors are getting their first chance to grow their wealth, after years of falling further behind stock-owning households, but they also have been criticized for making too many risky trades with their newfound app.

Early this year, they almost singlehandedly sent GameStop and a group of other “meme stocks” to heights professional investors called dangerously irrational. The mania led to big losses for some hedge funds, multiple halts in trading for stocks and congressional hearings asking who was getting hurt. It also forced Robinhood to temporarily bar its customers from making some GameStop trades, after it suddenly had to post much more in collateral to its clearinghouses that process its trades.

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'Happy tears': Lee's gold sparks joy at home in Minnesota

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — There were cheers and screams and “happy tears” for one of their own, and unending delight for what many saw as an “Only in America” story.

Sunisa Lee captured the women’s all-around gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics on Thursday, a triumph that wowed all of Minnesota but carried special resonance in the state's close-knit Hmong American community, one of the largest in the United States.

“I can’t find the words to express how happy we are, how important that was to me and my family and to the whole Hmong community throughout the world,” John Lee, father of one of the brightest lights now in Tokyo, told The Associated Press. “We never expected gold, but she came through. She did it.”

That she did, and dozens of her family and friends gathered early in the morning at a suburban St. Paul event center to watch the gymnastics broadcast from Tokyo.

Sunisa Lee got an opening when reigning Olympic champion Simone Biles withdrew from the all-around competition to focus on her mental health. There was nervous silence at the watch party as Lee turned in a brilliant set on uneven bars, a nervy performance on beam and a well-executed floor exercise.

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Congress passes bill to fund Capitol security, Afghan visas

WASHINGTON (AP) — Congress overwhelmingly passed emergency legislation Thursday that would bolster security at the Capitol, repay outstanding debts from the violent Jan. 6 insurrection and increase the number of visas for allies who worked alongside Americans in the Afghanistan war.

The $2.1 billion bill now goes to President Joe Biden for his signature. The Senate approved the legislation early Thursday afternoon, 98-0, and the House passed it immediately afterward, 416-11.

Senators struck a bipartisan agreement on the legislation this week, two months after the House had passed a bill that would have provided around twice as much for Capitol security. But House leaders said they would back the Senate version anyway, arguing the money is urgently needed for the Capitol Police and for the translators and others who worked closely with U.S. government troops and civilians in Afghanistan.

The bill loosens some requirements for the visas, which lawmakers say are especially pressing as the U.S. military withdrawal enters its final weeks and Afghan allies face possible retaliation from the Taliban.

The money for the Capitol — including for police salaries, the National Guard and to better secure windows and doors around the building — comes more than six months after the insurrection by former President Donald Trump’s supporters. The broad support in both chambers is a rare note of agreement between the two parties in response to the attack, as many Republicans still loyal to Trump have avoided the subject. The former president's loyalists brutally beat police and hundreds of them broke into the building, interrupting the certification of Biden's election win.

 

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