Athletes argue over 2024 US Olympic uniform, say Nike design could leave ‘things…popping out’

Ahead of the summer Olympic Games, Nike’s uniform debut sparked controversy as athletes argued over a revealing design that could leave “things…popping out.”

Thursday in Paris, France, at the Nike Air Innovation Summit, the global athletic corporation unveiled “data-driven” options for competitors with some Olympians even modeling the available kits. However, it was an image of one USATF women’s combo that left critics suspecting a “sexist” inspiration to “just shrink it and pink it.”

Featured by the track and field outlet Citius Mag, an image of mannequins adorned with a men’s and women’s kit was released that, as Reuters described, showed “a very high-cut pantyline.”

In its release on the uniforms, Nike contended, “The Paris 2024 collection is the most data-driven and visually unified effort Nike has ever produced. Featuring the Dri-Fit ADV platform, the 50 unique pieces serve athletes across a multitude of disciplines, body types and size ranges with maximum breathability and athlete performance in mind.”

Reactions to the seemingly revealing bottoms poured in, including from athletes like U.S. steeplechaser Colleen Quigley who argued the opposite was apparent as she told Reuters, “They are absolutely not made for performance.”

In a lengthier grievance on social media, 2006 and 2010 5000m U.S. champion Lauren Fleshman griped, “I’m sorry, but show me one WNBA or NWSL team who would enthusiastically support this kit…Professional athletes should be able to compete without dedicating brain space to constant pube vigilance or the mental gymnastics of having every vulnerable piece of your body on display.”

“If this outfit was truly beneficial to physical performance, men would wear it,” the openly queer activist continued. “This is not an elite athletic kit for track and field. This is a costume born of patriarchal forces that are no longer welcome or needed to get eyes on women’s sports.”

In defense of the options made available, Nike executive John Hoke was quoted by the Associated Press as saying the company had worked “directly with athletes throughout every stage of the design process.”

Likewise, the USATF said, “athlete options and choices were the driving force for USATF in the planning process with Nike.”

Further, defending Olympic gold medalist pole vaulter Katie Moon, notably sponsored by Nike, had expressed how she herself had apprehensions about the kit until she was able to try the options on.

“If this can help put women’s minds at ease a bit…I tried on the same style today and didn’t feel worried about…things…popping out,” she said posting two pictures of herself in response to one user arguing that women could not breathe or walk, let alone compete in the kits displayed. “I think it’s just the mannequin. This felt like the last kit just a slightly higher cut. I know every body is different [though] so just my take…”

She, too, had offered a longer take that suggested in the same day and age where men are being permitted to compete against women, that women athletes don’t need the public to come to their defense on this issue.

“I absolutely love people defending women, but we have at least 20 different combinations of a uniform to compete in with all the tops and bottoms available to us,” wrote Moon. “We DO have the men’s option available to us if we want it. When you attack the buns and crop top saying something along the lines of it’s ‘sexist’ (which if that was our only choice, it would be), even if it’s with the best of intentions, you’re ultimately attacking our decision as women to wear it.”

“And if you honestly think that on the most important days of our careers we’re choosing what we wear to appease the men watching over what we’re most comfortable and confident in, to execute to the best of our abilities,” the pole vaulter added, “that’s pretty offensive.”

Quigley had expressed her hope that Nike would offer custom tailoring for athletes and said to Reuters, “Our bodies are all different and it seems silly to expect us to compete at the highest level of our sport without a properly fit uniform,” a point the sportswear company agreed with, telling the outlet Olympic and Paralympic athletes would have accessibility to such services.

Still, other pros, amateurs and spectators alike couldn’t accept what were viewed as “Thoughtless decisions” in styling.

Kevin Haggerty

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