Georgia’s Rio 2016 Opening Ceremony Outfits Prompt Mockery

By Giorgi Lomsadze for EurasiaNet | The conservative designs have been widely criticised, with thousands calling for the costumes to be changed. reports.

Official Olympic outfit
The official Olympic outfits, unveiled on the 23 July. Photograph: Facebook

Thousands of Georgians have signed a petition calling for the Rio 2016 Olympic opening ceremony outfits to be changed, amid widespread mockery of the conservative costumes.

Male athletes have been assigned a high-necked dark grey suit, white shirt and red cravat, with women required to wear ankle-length white dresses with polo necks and red jackets.

Commenters pointed out that the athletes might feel over-dressed in the Brazilian summer heat.

Salome Zourabichvili, a former foreign minister, told the BBC the look was “neither sporty, nor Georgian”, while university professor Merab Basilaia joked that the outfits were designed to cover as much skin as possible and protect athletes against the Zika virus.

Olympic outfit Tweet

The president of Georgia’s Olympic Committee, Nino Salukvadze, tried to explain the costumes by saying that it may get cold at night in Rio de Janiero.

Even the parliamentary majority leader Zviad Kvachantiradze waded into the issue. “The Olympic outfit needs to be extravagant, youthful and sexy,” he said.

The maker of the outfits, period boutique Samoseli Pirveli, has defended its design, saying it is steeped in Georgia’s medieval past. “It is unfortunate that the Communist period left us so distanced from our traditional culture that Georgian things seem foreign to us,” it said in a statement.

Iran’s Olympic opening ceremony outfits have also been panned. Prominent actor and presenter, Rambod Javan, posted a picture on Instagram comparing the design to a Pelikan eraser. “A great well done to our officials for their choice of designer,” he posted. “Our athletes make lots of effort and gain glory but they are sent to the Olympics in such way.

The Georgian wardrobe scandal has also sparked deeper cultural concerns in a country where tradition and progress often clash.

The design boutique partly belongs to Levan Vasadze, a businessman known for his far-right politics and ties with the Georgian Orthodox Church. Even though Georgia is proud of its sartorial tradition, some saw the Olympic outfits as evidence of Vasadze’s alleged ambition to see Georgia become a Christian Orthodox theocracy.

Davit Paichadze, a professor of journalism at Ilia State University, said on Facebook: “To the next Olympics, we will go dressed as monks.”



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