BEIJING, China — Bobsledder Elana Meyers Taylor wrote that the best way she can send a message about the Olympic host nation, amid calls for various forms of boycotts, is to compete at the Beijing Games.
“I understand the concerns about human rights and free expression in China,” Meyers Taylor, a three-time medalist going to her fourth Games, wrote in an opinion piece for USA Today. “To go to Beijing and compete – as an American, a woman, a person of color and as a special needs parent – says more than any boycott could.”
Meyers Taylor, 37, has a unique perspective: She has been part of the Olympic Movement since her debut at the 2010 Vancouver Games.
While competing at the top of her sport, she served as president of the Women’s Sports Foundation, interned at the IOC headquarters in Switzerland and earned an MBA in finance. She has called out racism and gender inequity in bobsled.
She flew to Beijing with her husband, U.S. Olympic bobsled alternate Nic Taylor, and their 1-year-old son, Nico, who was born with Down syndrome and profound bilateral sensorineural hearing loss.
“For the last several years, we trained round-the-clock for this opportunity,” Meyers Taylor wrote. “We trained through a pandemic. I prepared for this Olympics after giving birth to our son. And all that while questions hovered about whether the Games would go forward at all. This event means more to us – and dozens of other Team USA competitors – than many will ever appreciate.”
Meyers Taylor acknowledged that people told U.S. Olympians to boycott the Games because of the host country. That they’ve urged viewers not to watch and criticized companies that sponsor Olympic athletes.
“I understand people want us and our backers to speak out about the host city decision,” she wrote. “But sponsors and athletes didn’t choose Beijing. Neither of us play a role in who hosts the Games; neither of us are the right objects for anger on that subject.”
These will likely be her last Olympics. They may be a crowning Games for one of the most popular athletes on the U.S. Olympic team, who recruited many into the sport of bobsled and uses her social media to lift up athletes in other sports.
Meyers Taylor is a worthy candidate to carry the U.S. flag into the Opening Ceremony next Friday. Ten days later, she may be the favorite to win the first Olympic women’s monobob competition and earn a first gold medal after two silvers and a bronze.
“In their criticisms of Team USA athletes and our supporters, figures in the media and in politics undervalue our sweat and effort and undermine the unifying spirit of the Olympics,” she wrote.