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Olympic Track Uniforms Spark Online Debate

Who designed them and why they're so skimpy?

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iStock/Jacob Wackerhausen

PARIS (AP) — U.S. track and field athletes have around four dozen pieces to choose from when assembling their uniforms at the Olympics. The one grabbing the most attention is a high-cut leotard that barely covers the bikini line and has triggered debate between those who think it is sexist and others who argue they don't need the internet to make sure they have good uniforms.

Among those critical or laughing at the uniforms included Paralympian Femita Ayanbeku, sprinter Britton Wilson and even athletes from other countries such as Britain's Abigail Irozuru, who wondered on social media: "Was ANY female athlete consulted in this team kit?!?"

Answer: Yes.

USA Track and Field said uniform maker Nike consulted with several athletes while designing the uniforms, which were unveiled in Paris earlier this week. Among those taking part in the rollout were world champion sprinter Sha'Carri Richardson and Olympic gold medalist Athing Mu, who wore versions of the uniform that covered more than the kit that grabbed so much attention.

Nike responded to a request for comment from The Associated Press by sending a statement quoting executive John Hoke as saying the company worked "directly with athletes throughout every stage of the design process."

USATF seconded that, saying "athlete options and choices were the driving force for USATF in the planning process with Nike."

Katie Moon, the defending Olympic champion in the pole vault who is sponsored by Nike, offered the most impassioned defense of the company on social media. She began her post by saying the leotard shown on the mannequin "was concerning, and warranted the response it received."

But she said the women had at least 20 different combinations of uniforms to compete in, and can also choose the styles made for men.

"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," she said.

Nike previously found itself at the center of another uniform debate. Several Major League Baseball players complained about the fit of the new Nike Vapor Premier during spring training. Nike has been designing MLB uniforms since 2020 and Fanatics has been manufacturing them since 2017, but this marked the first year for the Nike Vapor Premier jerseys.

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