Olympics: Australia unveils opening ceremony uniforms for Tokyo Games

Australia's softball player Tarni Stepto (left) and taekwondo athlete Safwan Khalil in the opening ceremony uniforms. PHOTO: REUTERS

SYDNEY (REUTERS) - Australia unveiled the uniforms its athletes will wear at the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics on Tuesday (May 18), a milestone that world champion canoeist Jessica Fox said made her third trip to the Games "a bit more real".

The opening ceremony is scheduled for July 23 but it is certain to be very different to previous Olympics because of Covid-19 health protocols, and with athletes arriving in Japan closer to their events than usual.

The uniforms, designed by Sportscraft, were unveiled at an ocean pool in the Sydney suburbs built in 1907 by the father of Mina Wylie, who won a swimming silver at the 1912 Stockholm Games as one of Australia's first female Olympians.

"I think it's the milestone moment of revealing the uniform and it kind of makes everything a bit more real," said Fox, who won the K1 canoeing silver in London in 2012 and a bronze four years later in Rio.

"We don't know yet what the opening ceremony in Tokyo will look like but ... it is very special."

Uncertainty continues to surround the Games, which have already been delayed by a year because of the pandemic.

A top medical organisation on Monday threw its weight behind calls to cancel the Olympics with hospitals already overwhelmed as Japan battles a spike in coronavirus infections.

Opinion polls in Japan show up to 83 per cent of the population want the Games cancelled or postponed again but the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Japanese government are pushing ahead with preparations.

Taekwondo athlete Safwan Khalil said he was well aware of the health issues and was doing everything he could to reduce the possibility he might make the situation in Japan worse.

"We don't want to threaten the safety and security of the Japanese as well, that's really important for us," he said.

"But we're trying to block out all that noise and just focus on what's in our control and that's our training and our preparation, get over there and do our absolute best."

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