The team’s clothing looked similar to the others in the room, as the lights of the arena shone from the criss-crossing crystals on their chests and crimson and white sleeves.
But the new Olympic suits of the German gymnastics team did not stop at their hips.
For decades, female gymnasts have been wearing bikini-cut tights. However, in Sunday’s qualifying match, the German team instead wore tights that stretched to the ankles, aiming to resist the gendering of women in gymnastics.
The Tokyo Olympics is the first Summer Olympics since the Olympics Larry NassarThe former US gymnastics team doctor was sentenced to 176 years in prison for sexually abusing hundreds of gymnasts, including some of the sport’s greatest stars. At the time of the sentencing, the athletes-some of them Olympic athletes-described how the culture of the sport allowed the abuse and objectification of young women and girls.
Male gymnasts wear tight-fitting clothes: vests, loose shorts for floor exercises and vaults, long trousers for barbells and pommel horse routines.
The German team wore sportswear for the first time at the European Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships in April.
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The 21-year-old German Sarah Voss said that until they got together before the game, they were not sure whether they would decide to wear them again in the Olympic Games.
“We sat together today and said, well, we want a big game,” Voss said. “We want to feel great, we want to show everyone that we look great.”
Although their wardrobe revolution is widely supported, it has not yet set off a trend. During qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics, all other female gymnasts wore tights with bare legs.
The 4-foot-8 American superstar Simone Biles said in June that she prefers tights because they can lengthen her legs and make her appear taller.
“But I support their decision to wear whatever they like and make them comfortable,” Byers said. “So, if someone outside wants to wear tights or tights, it’s all up to you.”
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Matt Cowan, Chief Commercial Officer of GK Elite, America’s premier tights manufacturer, said that most of the demands for tights now come from countries that need to be humble for cultural and religious reasons. In addition, they have not seen the craze for catsuits.
“Will we do it? Absolutely. We have the ability to design and do it, and we have done it,” Cowan said. “But from the perspective of consumer demand, we haven’t done it yet.”
Gymnastics is generally regarded as the most suitable sport for young women and girls. Byers, 24, often jokes that she is old; she recently called herself grandma on social media.
But other countries are opposed to this emphasis on youth, including Germans: Elisabeth Seitz is 27 years old, Kim Bui is 32 years old, Pauline Schafer is 24 years old, and Voss is 21 years old. Their average age is 26 years old. Voss said that gymnastics customs should leave room for women and their bodies change with age and change.
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Their clothing complies with the wardrobe regulations of the International Gymnastics Federation. But this does not mean that female athletes are usually free to choose to cover their bodies.
Just a few days before the start of the Olympics, the Norwegian women’s beach volleyball team refused to wear bikini bottoms during the European Championships, instead choosing tight shorts. For this reason, they were fined for violating wardrobe requirements.
But in the gymnastics qualifying competition on Sunday, the announcer on the loudspeaker called the costumes “really very good.” The German team did not advance to the final, but the commentator thought about whether their team’s debut on the Olympic stage would increase the unit’s popularity.
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