A Close-Up Look at the Olympics Opening Ceremony Uniforms

Associated Press

Saturday July 24, 2021

Olympics opening ceremonies generally focus on going big. They love to use grandeur and pomp and big visuals — fireworks, acrobatics, athletes marching en masse, choreography that's most impactful from a distance or on TV.

But when the athletes paraded in Friday night at the Tokyo Olympics opening ceremony, Associated Press photojournalist Petr David Josek decided to look at it a bit differently this time around.

When the athletes marched, he used his 400 mm lens — which is a very long lens. He went small. Zoomed in. Froze the moment. Paid attention to the little things.

What emerged was a delightful sea of detail — a mosaic of cultures and fashions and traditions.

Says Josek, a Czech Republic native: "Every Olympics there is a lot of talking about the uniforms, and it seems that some countries are really trying to make their mark in the ceremony. They either get well-known designers or they just come up with some interesting stuff to make their uniforms special. There was a lot of controversy about the Czech uniforms back home. So I was interested to see what other countries would bring."

His camera found, among other things: boots from Bhutan striped with a multicolored gumdrop design. Detailed lime-green embroidery on a shirt from Cameroon. Splashes of custard yellow and royal blue in pants from Malaysia. The shiny black stripes of a Colombian hat.

The images that Josek made reveal the personalities of athletes and cultures. They bring out textures and colors. And they show, in close-up form, exactly what Olympics organizers say they want to highlight: the good and interesting things that happen when the world's athletes come together.

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