Oct 202013

germany_olympics-thumb-480x424-32343On Tuesday, October 15, 2013, Germany premiered the colorful uniforms for its Sochi Winter Olympicsteam with a runway show in Düsseldorf.

The uniforms were created by German designer Willy Bogner, in cooperation with Adidas and the shoe company Sioux. Bogner claims they were an homage to the aesthetics of the 1972 Munich Summer Games and said he wanted to create a “celebratory design, inspired by the great atmosphere of the times

But other commentators have seen a more explicitly political message in the uniforms. On Twitter, German users interpreted the uniforms “as a rainbow pattern” and as a “clear political statement.” “Looks great, like a gay and lesbian pride parade,

German Olympic skier Daniel Bohnacker described the uniforms as “trendy The past several months have seen an international outrage directed towards Russia’s recent law banning “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations” targeted at minors. The anti-gay law has been used to justify crackdowns on gay rights groups and gay pride parades, and has been seen as a contributing factor to anti-gay violence in Russia. Neo-Nazi parties have bashed and intimidated young gay men.

It has also sparked concerns that Russian authorities could arrest gay athletes and visitors, and prompted moves to boycott the Russian Olympics and move them to Vancouver.  However, the infrastructure in Vancouver has been dismantled.

Not long after the Russian government took away gay rights, athletes began to protest.  The summer track and field events were held in Moscow. Swedish high jumper Emma Green Tregaro painted her fingernails rainbow colors in protest. At the same event, two female Russian athletes, Kseniya Ryzhova and Tatyana Firova, kissed on the podium, a move that was interpreted as a defiance of the country’s anti-gay rules. This week, (October) American skier Bode Miller denounced the law as “ignorant.”

Is this Political?  Here is the response from  The German Olympic Sports Confederation (DOSB,.  It denies any political message that could be read into the uniforms. The DOSB spokesperson, Christian Klaue, told Die Tageszeitung that “the uniforms are not a protest,” and said that the designs had been finalized before the Russia protests had even begun. Michael Vesper, general director of the DOSB, said, “This is just a fashionable jacket.”

paula’s final comments:

Personally, I can’t wait for the German team to enter the arena for the Opening Ceremonies.  They will receive applause because it will be seen as solidarity with LGBT persons in Russia.  The world will look on and hopefully medieval thinking countries will note that there is no excuse for bigotry and abuse of human rights.  Thank you, Germany.   May other countries follow their lead!

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