TOKYO (Reuters) – German gymnasts will choose whether to wear full-body suits at the Olympic qualifiers in Tokyo on Sunday, after they were praised in the past for dressing against the sexualization of their sport.
The German team wore fuchsia underwear – figure-hugging suits and ankle-length leggings – to their podium practice in Tokyo on Thursday and said they could wear them again at the start of the competition.
“We wanted to show that every woman, every person should decide for themselves what to wear,” said Elizabeth Seitz, who will be in her third match.
The sport has been shaken in recent years by incidents of widespread sexual and physical abuse, including in the United States, which has led to deep introspection and the introduction of new safety protocols to protect athletes.
At the European Championships in April, the German team wore full body suits, which were widely praised by other gymnasts.
Seitz, 27, said: “It doesn’t mean we don’t want to wear casual clothes anymore. Every day is a decision based on how we feel and what we want. On competition day we decide what to wear.”
For women, the standard dress code for competition is the shirt, with half-length, long-sleeved, and sleeveless clothing permitted.
Gymnastics rules allow leg-covering garments to be worn in international competitions, but until now they have been used almost exclusively for religious reasons.
“The coaches were very interested in that. They said they wanted us to feel safe and comfortable anyway,” said 21-year-old Sarah Voss.
Kim Boye, who also competed in the Rio and London Olympics, said the team’s outfit choices were just as comfortable as the standard dress.
“We also train in tights until we get used to the feeling,” the 32-year-old said. “There is no difference between competition and training. It is comfortable and that is the most important thing.”
(Reporting by Gabriel Tetro-Farber) Editing by Lincoln Fest.
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