German gymnastics team takes a stand against 'sexualization' in full-length unitards

The team said it's a way to feel more comfortable during training and routines.

July 26, 2021, 9:55 AM

The German women's gymnastics team sported full-body leotard suits during their qualifying round at the Olympics in an ongoing stand against the "sexualization" of the sport.

Unlike some of the high-cut bikini bottoms of other teams, these outfits are made with a single piece of fabric leotard with leggings that extend all the way down to the ankles, which the team said improves coverage and comfort.

“It's about what feels comfortable,” three-time Olympian Elisabeth Seitz said in a statement. “We wanted to show that every woman, everybody, should decide what to wear."

Gymnastics is one of multiple Olympic sports to buck the trend of less revealing uniforms, including volleyball and handball, with broadcasters adding in a new mantra from officials, "sport appeal, not sex appeal" in an effort to push gender equity on the field and on TV.

After the team's podium training on Thursday, Sarah Voss, Pauline Schaefer-Betz, Elisabeth Seitz and Kim Bui mutually agreed with their coaches to wear the red and white bodysuits on Sunday.

The team first debuted the unique and practical unitards earlier this year at the European Championships in Basel, Switzerland, after what Voss called a "team project" from training camp.

"We girls had a big influence on this,” Voss said. "The coaches were also very much into it. They said they want us to feel the most confident and comfortable in any case. It just makes you feel better and more comfortable."

Voss added that they were previously used to wearing "just a leotard on beam, and some girls said they wanted to feel more comfortable in training."

The athletes are allowed to wear shorts to avoid any uncomfortable slipping during training, Voss said.

Bui, a three-time Olympian, added that the unitards function as well as traditional leotards.

"We also train in tights so we are used to the feeling -- it is not that different between competition or training. It is comfortable and that is the most important thing," she said.

ABC News' Rachel Katz contributed to this report.

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