German gymnastics team wears full-body suits at Olympics after Norway takes stand

Sarah Voss, 21, Elisabeth Seitz, 27, Kim Bui, 32, and Pauline Schaefer, 24, chose to wear these full-body suits to promote freedom of choice for female athletes. It came days after Norway’s women’s handball team were fined for refusing to wear their required bikini bottoms which they considered to be too sexualising.

Instead, the team wore shorts similar to that of the men’s team. However, this was seen as a breach of the rules when worn by women.

It is a convention for female gymnasts to wear bikini-cut leotards, but the German team insist they are pushing back against the sexualisation of women in sports and general misogyny surrounding their required uniforms.

Sarah Voss, 21, said: “We sat together today and said, OK, we want to have a big competition.”

“We want to feel amazing, we want to show everyone that we look amazing.”

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Gymnastics often leaves little room for women in their later 20s, as it is common for gymnasts to be in their teens when competing at the Olympics.

However, the average age on the German team is 26, and so they defy that emphasis on youth.

Sarah continued: “We want to make sure everyone feels comfortable and we show everyone that they can wear whatever they want and look amazing, feel amazing, whether it is in a long leotard or a short one.

“We want to be a role model in any case, to make everybody have the courage to follow us,” she said.


The German team also wore full-body suits at the European Artistic Gymnastics Championships in April, so are very passionate about this cause.

But this does not contradict any rules as the wardrobe rules of the International Gymnastics Federation allow for a ‘one-piece leotard with full-length legs – hip to ankle’.

The German Gymnastics Federation (DTB) confirmed in April that its athletes were taking a stand against ‘sexualisation in gymnastics’.

“We hope gymnasts uncomfortable in the usual outfits will feel emboldened to follow our example,” Sarah said at the time.

“We women all want to feel good in our skin. In the sport of gymnastics, it gets harder and harder as you grow out of your child’s body.

“As a little girl I didn’t see the tight gym outfits as such a big deal. But when puberty began, when my period came, I began feeling increasingly uncomfortable,” she continued.

Kim Bui posted on social media saying the German team wanted to “encourage all gymnasts around the world to be able to wear this if they want to feel better!

“It should be a gymnast’s choice to wear what’s she (or he) feels comfortable with! Long legs leotards can also look aesthetically pleasing!”

Norwegian gymnast Julie Erichsen praised the team saying: “I think it’s really cool that they have the guts to stand on such a huge arena and show girls from all over the world that you can wear whatever you want. I applaud them for that.”

Shortly before the Games began, the Norwegian women’s beach handball team made headlines refusing to play in bikini bottoms during European tournaments, instead opting for skin-tight shorts.

For this, the Disciplinary Committee of the European Handball Federation (EHF) fined the young women 1,500 euros (£1,300).

The IHF rules state ‘female athletes must wear bikini bottoms’ and that these must have ‘a close fit’, be ‘cut on an upward angle toward the top of the leg’ and a side depth of no more than 10 centimetres.

A Norwegian motion to amend these so-called sexist and misogynistic rules is planning to be discussed by the bodies in the next few months.

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