German Olympic Gymnasts Debut Unitards to Combat 'Sexualization in Gymnastics'

(Unsplash/Bryan Turner)

The German gymnastics team has debuted unitards at the 2021 Tokyo Games, stepping outside the sport's norm to make a statement in condemnation of sexualization of their sport. Throughout the games, the team will wear full-length uniforms that cover their legs and most of their bodies rather than the customary leotards.

Wearing the unitard violates no Olympic rules, which allow for a "one-piece leotard with full-length legs--hip to ankle," per the Daily Mail. The world learned of the change when German gymnast Pauline Schaefer posted a photo to Instagram showing Elizabeth Seitz, Kim Bui, Sarah Voss and herself wearing the fashionable yet much less revealing garments:

"'Our podium training went really well," Schaefer wrote on Instagram. "We were able to call up our performance and introduce ourselves to the judges. Fine-tuning will be done again until Sunday and then it will finally start. How do you like our new outfit?"

Schaefer's posting comes only days after Norway's women's beach handball team received a fine for wearing shorts rather than bikini bottoms at a European championship match in Bulgaria, per CBC Sports. Beach Handball's rules specify tops and bikini bottoms for women, tank tops and shorts for men.

The German gymnastic team debuted the unitards at the European Artistic Gymnastics Championships in April, per BBC. The German federation said then that its gymnasts were taking a stand against "sexualization in gymnastics," adding that the issue had increased in importance to help prevent sexual abuse.

"We hope gymnasts uncomfortable in the usual outfits will feel emboldened to follow our example," Voss said in April.

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