Casual, practical, inspirational: Australia’s uniform for Tokyo Olympics unveiled

Australia’s Olympians will sport a casual but practical uniform at the opening ceremony for the Tokyo Games in a design that has avoided some of the fashion faux pas witnessed in previous years.

Athletes who will parade around the Olympic stadium when the delayed Games officially open on 23 July have been spared the same fate some of their forebears after an understated look was unveiled on Tuesday.

Gone are the native animal prints (with matching gumleaf necklaces and belts) of 1984, the checked shirts of 2000, 2008’s jailbird cosplay outfits and conservative business wear, and other horror shows of years gone by.

Instead, a “minimalist and timeless” design has been created by the fashion brand Sportscraft in its eighth range for Australia’s winter and summer Olympic teams since making its debut at the Atlanta Games in 1996.

The range takes Tokyo and its “jungle of electric lights and vibrant colours” as its main inspiration, although the national sporting colour palette of green and gold is retained.

Described as the “hero” piece of the range, a tailored, bespoke grey blazer is lined with the names of the 320 past Australian Olympic gold medallists since Edwin Flack won at the 1896 Games in Athens.

The canoeist Jessica Fox, who won silver in London 2012 and bronze four years later in Rio and is aiming to add her name to that list of champions, said to wear a jacket adorned with so many great names was inspiring.

“It’s so special to wear a jacket that has the name of every Australian Olympic champion written on the lining,” Fox said. “They’re on your back, I feel like they’ve got my back – all of us that get a chance to wear this jacket are carrying on the Australian legacy.

“It also then stokes our own dream and that desire to have our own names etched there for future Olympic generations.”

Semi-formal shorts accompany the blazer, which can be worn over a tailored shirt or blouse, with or without a tie or scarf.

Given that athletes will have to cope with the intense heat and humidity of the Tokyo summer, comfort was a focus for designers and stretchy natural fibres have been used where possible.

Female athletes have two separate outfits to choose from, including a dress or the blouse-short combination. The angles used in the designs were inspired by Japan’s Shibuya Crossing intersection, along with elements of the Southern Cross.

Designed in collaboration with the athletes, the end result, which includes footwear by Volley Australia, was also met with approval from the badminton player Gronya Somerville, who will represent Australia in her first Games in Tokyo.

“Putting on this uniform I just know I’m part of this amazing legacy of Australian Olympians before me, especially with a jacket with all the champions’ names on it,” she said. “It’s something that I can aspire to.

“I love the design with the bright pops of colour and the little details on the shoes.”

The Tokyo Games, which were delayed by a year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, are scheduled to go ahead in July and August, despite increasing public opposition amid concern about a fourth wave of infections in Japan.

A poll published this week, with just under 10 weeks to go, shows more than 80% of Japanese oppose hosting the Olympics as the country’s healthcare system has been put under increased strain and a state of emergency has been expanded.

International spectators have been banned from attending the Games and athletes will stay in Tokyo for the duration of their events only before flying back out.