The Tokyo Olympics broadcast will focus on the athletes’ performance, not their bodies. Filming the Games will be handled in a more gender-neutral way than in the past, Olympic Broadcasting Services (OBS) CEO Yiannis Exarchos said.
The new guidelines do not just appear out of thin air. On Sunday, the German gymnasts decided to perform at the Games in a full-body suit instead of the traditional leotards. They stand up to what they call the sexualization of their sport and encourage all women to wear what they feel comfortable in.
Exarchos said that OBS is not responsible for the athletes’ outfits but planned the broadcasts so that gender stereotyping is not reinforced.
“What we can do is make sure our broadcasts don’t emphasize the outfits or body parts of athletes that can contribute to stereotyping,” Exarchos said. “You won’t see some things that happened in the past in our broadcasts, like close-ups of some body parts.”
For example, the outfits of athletes in volleyball or gymnastics had previously been criticized, with the women’s outfit exposing more than that of the men. However, earlier this month, the Norwegian women played against Spain during the European Beach Handball Championship in Bulgaria. Afterwards, the match was not heavily commented on for sporting reasons but for wardrobe reasons.
The ten women were fined 150 euros each for not wearing the correct pair of shorts, which are ‘close-fitting, angled upwards towards the thigh and are no more than 10 centimetres long at the side’. The women wore shorts. Norway’s Sports Minister called the fine “ridiculous” and demanded a change in guidelines. American pop star Pink proposed to pay the fine herself and said she was “very proud” of the women.
“How a story is told is very important, and we choose to focus on the performance of the athletes,” said Exarchos. Therefore, a potential problem with an outfit will not be shown to protect the athlete’s integrity.