2020 Tokyo Olympics: Here’s Why Team USA’s Gymnasts Were Wearing Different-Colored Uniforms

by Emily Morgan

Team USA gymnastics star and greatest of all time, Simone Biles, came out on top during the opening night of the women’s gymnastics competition at the 2002 Tokyo Olympics on Sunday. However, when Biles returned to the arena, she was greeted by her teammates in blue and red leotards. As a result, many of us at home were left wondering why the team didn’t match.

As it turns out, only four gymnasts are competing for a team medal. The two other gymnasts are competing only for individual medals and not wearing the typical team uniform. On Sunday, NBC introduced the “core four” ahead of the night’s competition. Joining Biles were Suni Lee, Jordan Chiles, and Grace McCallum— who all donned blue uniforms.

At the same time, Jade Carey and MyKayla Skinner were seen in red uniforms. They also qualified for the Olympics as individual competitors. On Sunday, Cary’s had a stellar performance— so much so that she nearly beat out Lee to represent the USA in the individual all-around competition.

As a result, Carey will compete for medals in the vault and floor exercises sometime this week. However, she and Skinner won’t add to the Team USA score during the team competition’s medal round.

Biles’ teammate from the Rio gold medal-winning squad, Laurie Hernandez, explained the uniform change via Twitter. “Blue is on team/team finals, red is for individual finals,” she wrote on Twitter.

In the past, gymnastics team uniforms have been a topic of controversy. For decades, female gymnasts have had to wear bikini-cut leotards.

Germany Pushes Back on Traditional Leotards in Tokyo Olympics

However, Germany is now turning the page on the traditional uniform. In the qualifying round on Sunday, the German team wore unitards that went down to their ankles — a direct pushback to the sexualization of the typical uniforms.

In comparison, male gymnasts wear comparatively body-covering clothes known as singlets. It features loose shorts for their floor exercise and vault and long pants on bar and pommel horse routines.

Leotards that reveal the legs bare were worn by every other female gymnast during qualifying at the Olympics besides Germany. Biles said in June that she prefers the traditional leotards because they lengthen the leg and make her look appear taller.

“But I stand with their decision to wear whatever they please and whatever makes them feel comfortable,” Biles said at the time. “So if anyone out there wants to wear a unitard or leotard, it’s totally up to you.”

On Tuesday, Simone Biles pulled out of the entire team finals at the Olympics after slipping during her vault round.

The superstar gymnast slipped and nearly landed on her knees, trying to land her Amanar vault. She finished with a 13.766 score. At this time, it’s unclear what injuries Biles suffered or whether she will compete in the rest of the Olympics.