Several controversies regarding racism, sexism and human rights violations made headlines in the run-up to the Tokyo Olympics, from the Norwegian women’s beach handball team wearing shorts instead of bikini pants in the match to the official Australian uniform likely made of Xinjiang cotton, involved in forced labor and serious human rights violations.
Here, WWD has cleared up some of the controversy surrounding the Tokyo Summer Olympics uniforms. Read on to know more.
Norway’s women’s beach handball team
Spectators were disappointed by the ruling against Norway’s women’s beach handball team on July 20, where female athletes were fined for their decision to wear shorts instead of mandatory bikini bottoms during a match at European Championship.
The European Handball Federation fines each player 150 euros (about $177), equal to a total fine of 1,500 euros.
While male handball players are allowed to wear tank tops and shorts, female players are required to wear a shirt and bikini bottoms.
Team Norway will pay a fine; however, they have been campaigning to change the sport’s dress code since 2006 and will continue to fight for the rest of the Olympics.
The team informed the federation before the game that they would wear shorts instead of bikinis to make a statement against the sport’s dress code. The team wrote about the decision in an Instagram post shared on Tuesday, stating: “We’re also very proud of making a statement in the bronze final by playing in shorts instead. because bikini pants are mandatory! We are overwhelmed by the interest and support from all over the world! Thank you so much to everyone who supported us and helped spread the message! We really hope this leads to a change in this nonsense rule! “
In early July, athletes and fans were in an uproar when the International Swimming Federation (aka FINA) put a ban on Soul Cap, a Black-owned company that specializes in creating larger swim caps that are better able to contain and protect natural hair.
Soul Cap founders, Michael Chapman and Toks Ahmed-Salawudeen, spoke with BBC earlier this month about the ban, claiming that the federation had rejected their product because “to the best of their knowledge, athletes competing at international events never use, nor do requirements for use, caps of such size and configuration.”
They also stated that the ban was due to Soul Cap not following “the natural form of the head.”
The founders further commented on the ban on Instagram page Soul Cap, writing: “For young swimmers, the feeling of being included and seeing yourself in a sport at a young age is very important. FINA’s recent layoffs may discourage many young athletes from pursuing the sport as they progress through local, county and national competitive swimming. “
Due to the backlash, the federation is reviewing the ban and released a statement that read: “FINA is committed to ensuring that all aquatic athletes are able to use swimwear suitable for competition without This swimsuit does not provide a competitive advantage. FINA is currently reviewing the situation regarding Soul Cap and similar products, understanding the importance of inclusivity and representation. “
Australian Olympic The committee faced backlash earlier this year when they revealed their official Olympic uniforms would be designed by the sports brand. Asics. The brand, among many others, has been embroiled in controversy over its ability to use cotton from Xinjiang, an area in China that is home to a large population of Turkish Uyghurs, in its uniforms.
Xinjiang and its cotton have been embroiled in controversy since 2020 report from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute was published, which identified 27 factories in nine Chinese provinces that employed more than 80,000 Uyghurs as forced labor between 2017 and 2019. The growing attention on Xinjiang cotton has encouraged The United States issued a ban on the document in January.
Asics and the Australian Olympic Committee faced criticism when the official uniform was released in March, facing questions about the use of Xinjiang cotton. A backlash ensued when Asics released a statement on social media in China about the use of the material, saying the company would continue to buy cotton from Xinjiang despite other companies stopping it. use.
Asics later released another statement about the original cotton and Australian altered uniform.
“We are currently clarifying that the statement in question is unauthorized and is not our official company position on the matter,” the statement read. “And we can confirm that the Australian Olympic Team uniforms do not contain cotton sourced from Xinjiang and were not manufactured in this region.”
Paralympian Olivia Breen
On the eve of the Tokyo Summer Olympics, Paralympic athlete Olivia Breen spoke out against a female official at the British Championships who told her her shorts were too short and inappropriate.
“She was like, ‘your panties are too revealing. I think you should buy a pair of shorts,” Breen said in an interview with Sky News on Tuesday. “I do not know what to say. I just looked speechless and I just said to her, ‘are you joking?’ And she said ‘no, I think you should consider buying a pair of shorts.’ I just looked at my teammates and I didn’t know what to say. [The officials] just don’t tell us what we can and can’t wear. I have worn these for nine years of my career and I have never had an incident like this before.”
Breen also wrote about the incident on Twitter, speculating if a male athlete was similarly criticized.
“[The incident] makes me question whether a male contestant would receive the same criticism,” she wrote. “I hope no other female athletes have had the same problem. I recognize that there should be regulations and guidelines regarding matchwear, but women should not be self-conscious about what they are wearing in competition, but should feel comfortable and at ease. “
Breen hopes that she can continue to wear shorts while competing at the Tokyo Paralympics in August.
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