Tokyo Olympics: German women’s gymnastics team considers full body-suits

TOKYO — Members of the German women’s gymnastics team will decide whether to wear full body-suits when Sunday’s qualifying round begins at the Tokyo Olympics.

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Three team members wore fuscia leotards -- a combination of leotards and leggings that extend to the ankles -- during the European Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Basel, Switzerland, three months ago, NPR reported. The entire team wore them on Thursday at their podium training in Tokyo, Reuters reported.

“We wanted to show that every woman, everybody, should decide what to wear,” Elisabeth Seitz, who will be competing in her third Olympic Games, told the news organization.

Team members were praised in April for the full body-suits.

Wearing the unitards was a statement “against sexualization in gymnastics,” the German Gymnastics Federation said in April.

“That doesn’t mean we don’t want to wear the normal leotard anymore,” Seitz, 27, told Reuters. “It is a decision day by day, based on how we feel and what we want. On competition day, we will decide what to wear.”

Traditionally, women have worn a leotard that had either long, half-length or sleeveless garments.

Outfits covering legs are allowed by the gymnastics rulebook in international competitions, according to Reuters. However, they have been used almost always for religious reasons.

“The coaches were also very much into it,” German team member Sarah Voss told the news organization. “They said they want us to feel the most confident and comfortable in any case.”

The display during April’s competition was “one of the first examples we have of athletes making a statement that they would prefer to perform their sport in clothing that they are comfortable in, rather than clothing that might be geared towards an audience,” Elizabeth Daniels, a psychology professor at the University of Colorado who has written about the sexualization of women athletes, told NPR.

Kim Bui, who competed at the last two Olympics, said the team’s fashion statement was just as comfortable as a standard leotard.

“We also train in tights so we are used to the feeling,” Bui, 32, told Reuters. “It is not that different between competition or training. It is comfortable and that is the most important thing.”