Ready to get that gold! Simone Biles waves to the crowds as she and her teammates land in Tokyo ahead of the Olympics – after bidding farewell to NFL star boyfriend Jonathan Owens
Gymnast Simone Biles has landed in Tokyo with her teammates ahead of the Olympics after saying goodbye to her NFL star boyfriend Jonathan Owens and her family, who weren’t able to be with her because of COVID-19 restrictions.
The four-time Olympic Gold medalist gave an enthusiastic wave when she stepped off the plane at Narita International Airport in Japan wearing a cozy tie-dye sweatshirt, black leggings, and a mask.
Biles, 24, appeared to be in great spirits after her nearly 11-hour flight from San Francisco International Airport in California, where United Airlines hosted a send-off event for the U.S. Gymnastics team before they took off.
Famous face: Simone Biles arrived in Tokyo on Thursday with the U.S. Gymnastics team ahead of the Olympics
All together: Biles stepped of the plane with her teammates Sunisa Lee (far right), Grace McCallum, MyKayla Skinner (left), Jade Carey, and Jordan Chiles (third from right)
On the go: Biles wore a backpack as she rolled her luggage through Narita International Airport
Ready to fly: The Olympian was dressed comfortably a tie-dye sweatshirt and black leggings
The gymnastics superstar was seen with her teammates Sunisa Lee, 18, Grace McCallum, 18, MyKayla Skinner, 24, Jade Carey, 21, and Jordan Chiles, 20, whom she has grown particularly close since they started training together at the Biles family’s gym.
Biles was seen wearing a backpack and rolling her carry-on luggage as she made her way through the airport after half a day’s travel. They all had to take COVID-19 antigen tests upon their arrival.
Hours before, they enjoyed an incredible send-off courtesy of United Airlines. Biles, who was in a white sleeveless top, was seen palling around with Skinner and talking to United Airlines B-787 Capt. Jeffrey Neeley ahead of their flight.
Fans waved American flags as she walked by, and crew members held up signs outside their plane before they took off.
Greeting: Biles gave an enthusiastic wave after they stepped off the plane and entered the airport
Jet lag: The U.S. Gymnastics team few 11 hours from San Francisco International Airport in California
Safety first: The gymnasts all wore face masks per the airport’s COVID-19 protocols
Getting ready: The team is less than two weeks away from the gymnastics competition, which starts on July 25
Not leaving just yet! The group was huddled together as they waited in the airport
Biles took to Instagram to share photos to commemorate the occasion, starting with a picture of herself holding up a blue blanket featuring an outline of ‘Goldie’ the goat — her unofficial mascot representing her Greatest of All Time (GOAT) status.
‘@United knows! Thanks for making sure Goldie gets a ride to Tokyo. @TeamUSA is taking the #RoadToTokyo to the skies – next stop, Japan!’ she captioned the sponsored post.
The next snapshot showed her and Skinner sitting in the plane’s cockpit.
‘TOKYO BOUND w/ your new pilots,’ she joked.
Biles also posted her farewell to Owens on her Instagram Stories. In the photo, which appears to have been taken the day she left, the Houston Texans safety is kissing her head from behind.
Precautions: Biles and her teammates all had to take COVID-19 antigen tests upon their arrival in Japan on Thursday
Looking good: Biles appeared to be in good spirits despite the lengthy flight
Fun: Hours before they landed, United Airlines hosted a send-off event for the team at San Francisco International Airport (pictured)
Support: Fans waves American flags as Biles walked past them
Good time: Biles and Skinner were seen palling around together at the pre-flight event
‘Bye I love you so much,’ she captioned the image.
Owens, 25, reposted the snapshot on his own Instagram Stories, adding: ‘See you in a few weeks, go kill it in Tokyo.’
The gymnastics competition doesn’t start until July 25, but it’s already been a busy few days for the famous athlete, who sat down with Good Morning America‘s Kaylee Hartung for an interview at the send-off event.
Biles opened up about representing the U.S. at her second Olympics, saying: ‘It means the world to me. I did it in 2016 at various times for World Championships, so to have another opportunity, it’s just amazing.’
However, things are certainly different this time around due to the COVID-19 protocols, which ban spectators in the stands — including the competitors’ families — among other rules.
Something she said? Carey had Biles laughing behind her mask before take off
Saying hi: Biles and Carey were seen talking to United Airlines B-787 Capt. Jeffrey Neeley
Special moment: Crew members held up signs outside their plane before they took off
Press conference: Biles did interviews at the airport before they left for Tokyo
Aww! The Olympian also sat down with Good Morning America for an interview, saying it’s the first time she is traveling and competing without her family with her
‘We’ve had a lot of calls because COVID protocols will be different for an Olympic Games, as we’ve seen in previous seasons of all different sports so far this year,’ she said. ‘As for the crowd, that’ll be super weird because it’ll kind of be like training. We’ve never done that as well either. So it’ll be a different experience, but we’re ready for whatever they throw at us.’
Biles explained that this is the first time she is traveling and competing by herself — without her family supporting her in the stands.
‘I honestly have never done a competition without my parents there, so I’m a little bit nervous, but I know they’ll be there in spirit,’ she said. ‘My mom is like, “Please FaceTime me before.” So I’m sure she’ll be calling me as we get ready because they’ll be up already and ready to watch.’
In less than two weeks, Biles will be attempting to become the first woman to win consecutive Olympics titles in more than 50 years, but she admitted she thought about taking off when the Summer Games were postponed due to the pandemic.
Already missing each other: Biles shared photos from her travels, including a snapshot of herself saying goodbye to her NFL star boyfriend, Houston Texans safety Jonathan Owens
All smiles: Biles and Skinner got to hang out in the cockpit
Just for her! She also shared a picture of herself holding up a blanket featuring an outline of ‘Goldie’ the goat — her unofficial mascot representing her Greatest of All Time (GOAT) status
View: Biles and Chiles both shared snapshots from the airport and plane on their Instagram Stories
‘Mentally and physically — it’s just so draining and we had been prepared. We were already on the rise, to go to the Olympic Games or to try to compete, so it’s just like, it was a whirlwind,’ she said.
However, she’s confident that despite the setback, Team USA will ‘still bring the joy’ and ‘bring back the medal.’
Biles also opened up about her teammate Chiles, who is performing better than ever after she started training at her family’s World Champions Centre in Spring, Texas.
‘She’s doing so amazing right now,’ she said of Chiles. ‘She’s like my little sister, so I’m really proud. I’m excited for her and I think she deserves this. People are finally seeing what she’s capable of.’
On Wednesday, a judge agreed to delay the start of Chiles’ mother Gina Chiles’ prison sentence so she will be able to watch her compete in Tokyo from the comfort of her own home.
She was scheduled to report to prison on July 27 for a one-year sentence for embezzlement — the same day that Chiles will compete in the women’s gymnastics team final at the Olympic Games.
Champion: Biles blew away the competition at the Olympic trials last month. She’s pictured competing on the floor exercise at the event
Winners: Biles told GMA that she is confident that Team USA will ‘still bring the joy’ and ‘bring back the medal’ despite the Olympics being postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic
Can she do it again? Biles (pictured at the Rio Olympics) will be attempting to become the first woman to win consecutive Olympics titles in more than 50 years
But a federal judge in Portland with her lawyer’s plea to postpone the start of her sentence by one month to give her the chance ‘to support her daughter throughout the Olympics‘ and ‘give Mrs. Chiles’ daughter at least some additional time to have her mother’s emotional support and guidance during such a monumental time her young life.’
Gina Chiles pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud for embezzling $1.2 million from her clients and business partners through Inspire Vision Property Management LLC, a commercial properties management business.
She was sentenced to one year and one day in federal prison for the crime, and when she gets out, she will have to repay what she stole.
But this week, her lawyer asked a judge to postpone her sentence to give her the chance to root for her daughter in the Olympics, and prosecutors did not object.
‘Every moment that I watch Jordan is the most amazing moment as a mom,’ Gina told Hoda Kotb on the Today show on Wednesday before she learned that her term was delayed.
‘And so I just am looking at it as not bittersweet, but just sweet, period, that she’s here.’