Athletes' ceremony fashion statement

Sprint canoe gold medallist Saúl Craviotto looks less than impressed with the Spain's uniforms for the London Olympics.
Sprint canoe gold medallist Saúl Craviotto looks less than impressed with the Spain's uniforms for the London Olympics.
Usain Bolt in the Jamaica uniform.
Usain Bolt in the Jamaica uniform.
New Zealand sporting a black and white number.
New Zealand sporting a black and white number.
Australia seem to be playing it safe this year.
Australia seem to be playing it safe this year.

Few Australian athletes liked the green, white and grey Olympic opening ceremony uniforms in Athens eight years ago.

But no one dared voice that opinion in public.

The Spaniards in London are a smidge ballsier.

Either that, or their 2012 uniforms are on such a level of sartorial awkwardness that the athletes were compelled to voice their displeasure.

Because, while the Jamaicans are being lauded for their laid-back urban threads - designed, no less, by Bob Marley's granddaughter - and the French will at least look dignified, if a little staid, in cropped midnight-blue jackets and white trousers, the Spanish have been roundly condemned for putting their athletes in red and yellow concoctions of flame motifs and filigree-patterned polos.

And the condemnation has come from within, as a number of athletes hinted heavily at their displeasure on social media.

"At home trying on my Olympics outfit. It is best if I don't voice an opinion, I will leave it up to you ..." Beijing sprint canoe gold medallist Saúl Craviotto said on Twitter a week ago.

It was the accompanying picture Craviotto uploaded that told the full story. The 27-year-old resembled a miserable mid-90s fast-food restaurant employee in a polo shirt and Espana cap, clutching a red and yellow backpack in his hands.

Hockey player Alex Fàbregas, a silver medallist in Beijing, was rendered speechless on the issue of the Russian-designed Spanish kit. "Olympic equipment, there are no adjectives ..," he said.

But it was former world No.1 tennis player Carlos Moya who put the bluntest point on it, saying in a Tweet republished more than 200 times: "Looking forward to seeing [tennis player] Feliciano Lopez wearing the official Olympic uniform. He'll never have worn anything so ugly in his life."

Of course, Olympic team uniform critiques are a tricky and contested business. Time magazine rated Australia's uniforms - which were received well at home (or maybe it was just the Dunlop volleys?) - as second worst, behind the United States.

The New Zealand team's kit, complete with fussy patterned bows and white piping-trimmed blazers, was given the thumbs up, and Russia's garish print - by the same firm, Bosco, behind the Spanish debacle - was deemed just worse than the Australian uniform.

No mention there of the big-haired Charlie's Angels-style models trotted out for the Netherlands's unveiling, or the candy-striped outfits that will be worn by Belize.

The Italian designers had the most success. Azerbaijan's Ermanno Scervino-designed outfits look relaxed and youthful, while the Italians are sharp and sleek in uniforms designed with input from Georgio Armani and Prada.

The Spaniards' fate was decided more than 18 months ago and could have been affected by the country's troubled economy, according to the country's Olympic committee president, Alejandro Blanco.

"The outfits are what we have, we cannot change them now, and were decided upon more than a year-and-a-half ago," Blanco told Spanish media last week.

"When you measure the difference between paying one and a half million Euros ($771,773) of public money and free clothes, there is no discussion."

Sydney Morning Herald