Olympic gymnasts in stunning protest against 'sexualised' leotards

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Elisabeth Seitz, Sarah Voss and Pauline Schafer, pictured here at the German gymnastics Olympics trials.
Elisabeth Seitz, Sarah Voss and Pauline Schafer at the German gymnastics Olympics trials. (Photo by Tom Weller/picture alliance via Getty Images)

The German gymnastics team has given its female athletes the choice to wear full-length bodysuits at the Tokyo Olympics in a stand against the 'sexualisation' of their sport.

The German team wore fuchsia unitards - combined leotards and leggings extending to the ankles - at their podium training in Tokyo on Thursday and said they could choose to wear them again when competition begins.

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The Germans have received accolades for donning the full-length outfits in the past.

"We wanted to show that every woman, everybody, should decide what to wear," said Elisabeth Seitz, who will be competing in her third Games.

Sarah Voss, pictured here competing in a full-length bodysuit at the European Artistic Gymnastics Championships.
Sarah Voss competes in a full-length bodycuit at the European Artistic Gymnastics Championships in April. (Photo by FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP via Getty Images)

In recent years the sport has been rocked by widespread cases of sexual and physical abuse, prompting deep introspection and the introduction of new safety protocols meant to protect athletes.

The German team wore the full-body suits at the European championships in April in a move that was broadly praised by other female gymnasts.

"That doesn't mean we don't want to wear the normal leotard any more," the 27-year-old Seitz said. 

"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."

German gymnasts praised for taking a stand

The standard competition outfit for women is a leotard, with long, half-length sleeved and sleeveless garments allowed.

Outfits covering legs are allowed by the gymnastics rulebook in international competitions, but have been used almost exclusively for religious reasons.

"The coaches were also very much into it," said 21-year-old Sarah Voss. 

"They said they want us to feel the most confident and comfortable in any case."

Kim Bui, who also competed at the Rio and London Olympics, said the team's fashion choice was just as comfortable as a standard leotard.

"We also train in tights so we are used to the feeling," the 32-year-old said. 

"It is not that different between competition or training. 

"It is comfortable and that is the most important thing."

with agencies

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