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Nikes Olympic track womens uniforms criticized by athletes over sexism concerns

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(NEW YORK) — Nike unveiled its 2024 Paris Summer Olympics track uniforms for women and the designs received criticism online from athletes and fans amid claims of sexism.

Concerns were brought up after the image of the designs was posted last week by Citius Magazine on its social platforms, which shows a women’s unitard featuring a high-cut bikini line.

The post led to thousands of comments including some from former U.S. athletes.

Former U.S. track and field athlete Lauren Fleshman posted the image of the men’s and women’s outfit which were dressed on mannequins on her Instagram account, calling out the brand over sexism concerns in her lengthy caption.

“I’m sorry, but show me one WNBA or NWSL team who would enthusiastically support this kit,” she wrote. “This is for Olympic Track and Field. Professional athletes should be able to compete without dedicating brain space to constant pube vigilance or the mental gymnastics of having every vulnerable piece of your body on display.”

She continued, “Women’s kits should be in service to performance, mentally and physically. If this outfit was truly beneficial to physical performance, men would wear it.”

Noting that the design “is not an elite athletic kit,” Fleshman added, “This is a costume born of patriarchal forces that are no longer welcome or needed to get eyes on women’s sports.”

Olympic champion pole vaulter Katie Moon also took the issue to her Instagram account, citing the image of the outfit “shown on the mannequin was concerning, and warranted the response it received.”

In the post, Moon, however, shared that female athletes have “at least 20 different combinations of a uniform to compete in” including men’s options available to them.

“And if you honestly think that on the most important days of our careers we’re choosing what we wear to appease the men watching over what we’re most comfortable and confident in, to execute to the best of our abilities, that’s pretty offensive,” she added.

In a statement to ABC News, Nike said the outfit is one of the “range of styles” that it offers for athletes to choose from. The brand said it “will also have tailoring options available for Olympic and Paralympic athletes at the games.”

Meanwhile, Nike Chief Innovation Officer, John Hoke, said in a press release last week that the brand “designed the Paris 2024 track and field kits to offer athletes a range of silhouettes tailored for various sport disciplines, body types and sizes, prioritizing performance and maximum breathability.”

The USA Track & Field team also issued its own statement to ABC News regarding the Nike uniform reveal, saying the outfits “are only two of many options, including 50 unique pieces, that athletes will be able to choose from for the upcoming Olympic Games.”

“Athlete options and choices were the driving force for USATF in the planning process with Nike,” the statement continued. “USATF is also aware that Nike consulted with athletes throughout the design process to ensure that all athletes are comfortable and that the uniforms are well-suited for their respective events.”

The criticism over Nike’s design for the women’s track uniforms comes less than two months after the brand received a backlash over its league-wide uniform overhaul for Major League Baseball players which some fans and players called the jersey and pants too transparent.

The MLB said in a statement in February that it would work with Nike to have adjustments made to the uniforms and that the league was in “close contact with our Clubs and uniform partners to ensure Clubs have what they need for Opening Day.”

Nike also said in a statement that they would work closely with the MLB and its players.

“The quality and the performance of our product is of the utmost importance to us. We will continue to work with MLB, the players and our manufacturing partner to address player uniforms,” Nike said in a statement at the time.

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