Olympics 2021: The 10 weirdest Games uniforms of all time

Australia's uniforms for the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney haven't aged particularly well. (Photo by THIERRY ORBAN/Sygma via Getty Images)
Australia's uniforms for the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney haven't aged particularly well. (Photo by THIERRY ORBAN/Sygma via Getty Images)

The Olympics inspire the very best from athletes around the world every four years - or five years in the case of this year's postponed 2021 Tokyo Games.

Unfortunately though, designers of the Olympic uniforms those athletes have donned at opening ceremonies over the years haven't always risen to the occasion.

While each nation's uniforms usually show off some unique aspect of their country, others prove to be more head-scratching than inspiring.

The following outfits are a bit more daggy than dapper - but all show off a unique aspect of their athletes' home country.

Sweden - London 2012

Sweden's Olympic team at London Olympics
Sweden's uniforms for the London Olympics showed off their national colours well, but also gave off a few 'Where's Wally' vibes. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Athletes resembling tourists rather than sportspeople will be somewhat of a running theme in this list, and Sweden's athletes at the 2012 Games were no exception.

Looking very noticeable with the nation's distinctive light blue and yellow colours in horizontal stripes, their bold tops were paired with grey slacks and skirts.

The stripes gave off a sort of Scandinavian 'Where's Wally' vibe, with many of the athletes wearing matching blue and yellow sneakers as well.

Australia - Barcelona 1992

Australia's 1992 Olympic outfit
Australia's beige and olive green look in Barcelona is probably best left back in 1992. Picture: YouTube/Olympics

If there were a gold medal for fashion faux pas, Australia would be the frontrunner almost every year - but the 1990s were a particularly heinous time for our athletes.

The word 'daggy' primarily springs to mind, and for so many reasons - the brown shoes and beige socks combination is a head-scratching combination, for starters.

Throw in some olive shorts and a short-sleeve patterned shirt that even Dr Karl Kruszelnicki would find to be a little much, the Aussie look in 1992 looks to have aged about as well as a bucket of milk in the sun.

Germany - Athens 2004

Male German Olympic team member wearing olive suit
The hollowed-out water polo ball wasn't standard for Germany's uniforms in Athens in 2004, but the olive suits were nonetheless a little strange. (Photo credit should read ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP via Getty Images)

Hope you like olive green suits, because that's going to become another recurring theme in this list.

Germany's athletes showed up to the opening ceremony in Athens wearing suits that resembled a Driza Bone more than anything else.

Accompanied by pastel shirts, orange ties and straw boater hats, it was unclear if Germany had arrived for the Olympics or a safari tour.

Also, a shout-out to the water-polo player who decided to wear a hollowed out water polo ball as a hat. Great stuff.

Canada - Barcelona 1992

Canada Olympic team at 1992 Barcelona Games with foam maple leaves on their hands
Canada rocked one of the busiest outfits you'll see at the 1992 Barcelona Games, complete with foam maple leaves on their hands. Picture: YouTube/Olympics

There is probably a good debate to be had about which country has the worst Olympic fashion between Canada on Australia - who feature multiple times each on this list.

Canada's outfit for the Barcelona Games was an assault on the eyes and well and truly of its time - a vibrantly pattered shirt and pants paired with a bright yellow shirt underneath.

Resembling the kind of pattern you'd see on a coach seat, the unbuttoned shirt look wasn't the worst thing you'll see on this list, but it might be the busiest outfit here.

Canada's athletes also donned maple-leaf shaped foam hands, a nice touch from Australia's similarly fashion-challenged ally.

USA - London 2012

Team USA's Ralph Lauren designed outfits at London 2012 Games
Team USA's Ralph Lauren designed outfits for the London 2012 Games were a bit too preppy for some's liking. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

America has had some ripping outfits over the years - their Levi Strauss-designed fit for the 1980 Winter Games is a classic - but 2012 represented something of a nadir on the design front.

The Ralph Lauren-designed outfits made it seem as though America had entered one massive sailing team.

The preppy navy blazers were meant to be inspired by the country's defence forces, but made their Olympic athletes look like snooty graduates of only the most prestigious schools.

Hungary - Beijing 2008

Hungary's 2008 Olympics outfits
Hungary's 2008 Olympics outfits were unforgettable . (Photo credit should read WILLIAM WEST/AFP via Getty Images)

The female athletes of Hungary might have wished they'd been given the same outfits as their male counterparts in 2008.

Eye-catching themes of red and white suited the European nation, but the womens' splotchy red-patterned dresses stuck out like a sore thumb next to the more understated white suits and red ties the men donned.

While far from the worst on this list, it was an eye-catching effort that caught eyes for all the wrong reasons.

Australia - Sydney 2000

The Australian Olympic Team at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, Homebush
The Australian Olympic Team walk during the Opening Ceremony of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in Homebush Bay, Sydney, Australia. Photo: Clive Brunskill /Allsport/Getty Images

Having learned absolutely nothing from their 1992 outfits, Australia continued the weird, kitschy trend from the Barcelona games eight years later on home soil.

Officials felt a maroon coat over a bright yellow patterned shirt and green pants or skirts was the best we had to offer at the time.

The clash of colours, which arguably are meant to represent the various colours of our beautiful natural environment, looked questionable at best.

Canada - Calgary 1988

Canadian Olympic team at Calgary Winter Olympics in 1988
The host nation looked unforgettable at the Calgary Winter Olympics in 1988. Picture: YouTube/Olympics

I'm cheating a little bit by including Canada's 1972 uniform's for the Winter Olympics in Japan, but these are just beautiful.

The vibrant red and white, the hats, the tassels.

If you can't appreciate the beautiful strangeness of these I don't know what to tell you. If I saw these in an op-shop I'd be clamouring for my wallet.

Japan - Athens 2004

Team Japan at the Athens Olympics
Japan brought some neon-pastel flair to their outfits at the Athens Olympics. (Photo credit should read ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP via Getty Images)

There's something a little whimsical about the Olympics, and Japan clearly bought into that ahead of the Athens games.

The odd white and pastel coats featured an eye-catching floral print, and were paired with a white bucket hat featuring neon trim in a variety of colours.

Remarkably, this look might have aged about the best of any on this list.

Australia - Los Angeles 1984

Australian marathon runner Robert de Castella
Australian marathon runner Robert de Castella was part of the men's cohort who refused to walk with Australia's female athletes. Picture: YouTube/Olympics

Australia's outfits in 1984 were allegedly so bad the male athletes refused to walk out alongside their female counterparts, who were sporting wattle-inspired yellow and green dresses.

While those weren't exactly a high point in Australian fashion, the fact that those men's outfits were so wildly boring they went on to become the staple outfit of Home and Away's Alf Stewart for the next three decades probably indicates they weren't at the height of fashion.

Fortunately for our home athletes this list has to come to an end at some point - earning the rest of Australia's somewhat heinous fashion history a reprieve.

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