Can the Olympic kit faux pas bring shame to our beloved country?


Letter to editor

For the past week or so, our Paris Olympics 2024 official kit has hogged the limelight more than any other world headlines. But for all the wrong reason.

Netizens were quick to condemn the Malaysian contingent’s official sports attire introduced by the Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) for being ugly and uninspiring.

Thereafter, Youth and Sports Minister Hannah Yeoh had announced that it will not be used in the Paris Olympics opening ceremony.

Finally, after all the brouhaha, the OCM unveiled a much fiercer design with the yellow and black tiger stripes seen prominently.

In the past, we have seen all kinds of designs paraded at the Olympics, from the Jalur Gemilang, blue and white stripe to the red and white and fierce black and yellow tiger stripes representating our “Malaysia Boleh” spirit.

But the fashion faux paux launched together with dull mannequins last week had sent shockwaves of condemnation from the netizens.

In fact, some government officials even had the audacity to defend the attire, saying that winning the gold medal is more important than attire.

The world is watching

As a brand expert for over 30 years and a fashionista, here is my humble opinion. When you are competing in the international sports, you are carrying your country’s image. Everything you do, wear and behave will be scrutinised.

In other words, you are the brand ambassador to your country.

Hence, the sports attire design is considered a packaging design. If the design look awkward, the country’s image is compromised.

Although medals should be the yardstick of success of a country for sports, we should not take the importance of the sports attire design for granted.

Remember how the late Florence Griffith-Joyner (Flo-Jo) made heads turn when she broke the Olympics record donning her own special track fashion back in the 80s?

Different hooded track suits, colourful nails and hairdo. She made the world take notice of women’s track and field back then.

And in the 1972 Olympics, no Canadians won Gold but their Olympic team made headlines with their wide collars, plumed hat and polka dots sports attire.

Not forgetting, US figure skater Debi Thomas broke barriers when she ditched away the skirt and donned a fancy sequined jumpsuit instead.

On the other hand, Michael Johnson perhaps scored some brownie points running on a pair of Golden Shoes in the 1996 Olympics.

There are many more ground-breaking examples of how sports attire re-define a nation’s pride.

As a fashionista, I find the Olympic attire launched last week a no-brainer, slip shoddy piece of work.

At least, with the new fiercer tiger-striped attire, let us put the matter to rest. Take this mistake as a lesson well learnt and move on.

For those who are quick to dismiss the importance of the said sports attire, remember the world is watching us. Don’t make our country a laughingstock. Listen to the rakyat. We are definitely behind our sportsmen and women. Malaysia Boleh! 

Francis Yip Hon Cheng is a fashionista and a multiple award-winning lifestyle writer and creative director. He is also the CEO of Franciswriter Dot Com and guest lecturer in The One Academy.

The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of MMKtT.

- Focus Malaysia

Can the Olympic kit faux pas bring shame to our beloved country?