London Olympics 2012: A Critique on the Closing Ceremony

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Dressed to Win

AT THE start of 2016 Brazil should be in an exuberant mood. Rio de Janeiro is to host South America’s first Olympic games in August, giving Brazilians a chance to embark on what they do best: throwing a really spectacular party. Instead, Brazil faces political and economic disaster.

TODAY, THE RULES GOVERNING Individual sports are drawn up by their various governing bodies, supervised by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

Some at first seem a little bizarre. For example, Article 23 of the United World Wrestling health regulations stipulates that “competitors must have their beard completely shaved. If beards are worn, they must not be shorter than 5 mm.” They are further forbidden to have any sweat on their body when they arrive at the mat for the start of a bout, or at the start of each period. They may not “apply and greasy, or sticky substance to the body”. Female competitors may not wear an under-wired bra.


There are good reasons for all of these rules. A competitor is not allowed to have a short bread or stubble because then his chin could “rub like sandpaper and open up a cut”, according to wrestling’s governing body. If a wrestler’s body is sweaty or geasy, that makes it much harder to grasp and would put an opponent at a disadvantage. An underwired bra is forbidden because “any metal objects, which could also, include zippers, could be a hazard during wrestling and poke or gouge a competitor”.



Understandably, preventing competitors gaining an unfair advantage from their attire is a key concern. The rules for cycling decree that: “Apparel cannot be adapted to serve any purpose apart from that of clothing.”

As an example of a design that would be barred, the rules mention “wings” between a cyclist’s arms and body, or shoes shaped to make them more aerodynamic. Similarly, athletes in jumping events are forbidden from wearing shoes with thick, bouncy soles.


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