Why knickers should be in a twist over Olympic kit rules for women | Nicola Adam column

The Olympics has been an interesting starting block for many issues but none more than 'knicker-gate'

Friday, 30th July 2021, 12:30 pm

From the female athletes forced to wear skimpy sportswear because a European sporting body says they have to, to the Paralympian whose kit was branded ‘too revealing’, it has sparked an interesting conversation around choice in sport.

Of course any sport needs its rules and there are many practicalities surrounding kit choices.

You can’t wear a floppy tracksuit to tackle the asymmetric bars or swim, for example.

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Women compete in Olympic beach volleyball

Former Team GB Olympic bronze medallist gymnast Amy Tinkler argues the extremely tight leotards are not to look sexy but to keep the gymnasts safe during precision moves on the floor, vault and beam as loose clothing simply would not work.

But it’s also true the kit is as much about selling clothes as sport. They are designed for the spectators and viewers rather than the athletes to keep brands fresh and exciting, according to former champ Fatima Whitbread and she has a point.

Many, particularly female, athletes feel strongly about the issue and it’s only surprising it’s taken until 2020 to make a massive stink.

It began with Norway’s beach volleyball team, who were fined for refusing to wear mandatory bikini bottoms which show practically everything - not helped by powerful cameras zooming in at every opportunity.

Pop star Pink was so apoplectic at this blatant sexism she stepped in to pay.

The German gymnastics team made the same point, wearing body-covering unitards to protest against the sexualisation of sport,

Meanwhile paralympian Olivia Dean had quite the opposite problem, after being told her athletic attire was a little too little. But thehe real issue here is choice.

Athletes should absolutely have options according to their personal preferences and needs, within safety standards and guidelines.

It is true the original Olympic athletes competed naked in 1766 BC.

But no person should be forced to flash their bottom to the world in 2021 - if they don’t want to.

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