Controversy Surrounds Nike’s Revealing Team USA Track and Field Kit for Women

Nike faces backlash over the revealing design of the women’s Team USA track and field kit for the upcoming Olympics, with athletes criticizing the focus on appearance over performance and calling for more functional attire options.

Nike has faced criticism from women athletes over the design of the Team USA track and field kit for the upcoming Olympic Games, which has been called revealing and sexist. The controversy began when images of the women’s kit, featuring a very high-cut pantyline on a mannequin, were released, leading several athletes to challenge the emphasis on skimpiness rather than functionality. “They are absolutely not made for performance,” stated U.S. steeplechaser Colleen Quigley.

This issue of revealing outfits has been a longstanding debate in women’s sports, leading to changes in attire rules across various disciplines. For instance, Germany’s women’s gymnastics team opted for full-length bodysuits at the Tokyo Olympics to combat sexualization in the sport, and Gymnastics New Zealand recently allowed the addition of shorts or leggings over leotards.

In response to the backlash, Nike mentioned that for this Olympics, it is providing athletes with unitard options that include both briefs and shorts, unlike the previous games where only brief options were offered. The brand also highlighted that their track and field kits for both men and women comprise nearly 50 apparel pieces and 12 competition styles tailored for specific events.

Despite the criticism, Nike-sponsored pole vaulter Katie Moon acknowledged on social media that while the kit on the mannequin was “concerning,” athletes do have several options regarding their attire, and she personally prefers briefs. USA Track & Field also emphasized that athlete preferences were key in the planning process with Nike.

At the launch event in Paris, where U.S. middle-distance runner Athing Mu and sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson modeled the kits, Mu appeared in briefs while Richardson showcased a version with shorts. Quigley suggested that Nike should provide custom tailoring for athletes who make the team to ensure optimal fit. “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,” she commented. Nike has confirmed that tailors will be available for Olympic and Paralympic athletes to address these concerns.

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