TOKYO — Taboo in much of Tokyo, tattoos are everywhere at the Olympics.
The athletes are redefining what it means to have the mark of a champion
There’s the lion on British swimmer Adam Peaty’s shoulder. An inspirational message on the arm of Chinese 3-on-3 basketball player Yan Peng. A likeness of Christ the Redeemer on the calf of Spanish boxer Gabriel Escobar Mascunano.
And the Olympic rings. So many Olympic rings.
French swimmer Fantine Lasaffre has them on her left forearm, and American shooter Kayle Browning on her right wrist. They’re on Moroccan boxer Abdelhaq Nadir’s left bicep, and on the ankle of Canadian gymnast Shallon Olsen.
Italian gymnast Vanessa Ferrari has them, too, on the back of her neck — along with ink commemorating previous trips to the Beijing, London and Rio de Janiero Games.
Athletes won’t do much mingling with locals at these pandemic-restricted Olympics. If they did, they might not find their body art as welcome. Tattoos remain stigmatized in Japan, where those with them are commonly banned from beaches, gyms, pools and elsewhere around Japan.
No such restrictions in the Olympic bubble, though. In the pool, on the beach, at the range — the athletes are redefining what it means to have the mark of a champion.