No matter what else happens, the 2020 Tokyo Olympics are going to be different from all those many Olympiads to come before. They'll take place in 2021, for one thing. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, foreign spectators won't be able to attend. But despite low public support and a recent rise in COVID-19 cases, the torch is lit — and making its way around Japan as you read this.
Then, come summer, we'll see more changes to the games as four new sports debut: karate, surfing, skateboarding and sport climbing. What'll these events look like? Well, we'll have to wait and watch NBC to know for sure, but The North Face just gave us a hint — by releasing images of Team USA's new rock climbing uniforms.
The North Face has been making climbing clothing and gear for decades, but the Olympic competition uniforms are a far cry from ripstop pants and polyester t-shirts that make up its consumer-facing line. Instead, they're minimal, form-fitting, laser-perforated garments and call to mind track and field or gymnastics kits more readily than anything you'll see at the local climbing gym.
"While we sought to first create an extremely lightweight and breathable design, we also wanted to produce a design that honors the bold and timeless heritage of The North Face as well as the unique spirit of each federation," Erica Cottrell, design manager of climb at The North Face, said in a press release.
Cottrell's team used 4D scanning technology typically used in the medical field to ensure the uniforms emphasize movement and articulation. They also worked with The North Face's top climbing athletes, including Margo Hayes, Ashima Shiraishi and Nathaniel Coleman, to gather feedback before landing on a final design.
In addition to the U.S., Olympic climbing teams from Japan, South Korea and Austria will also be outfitted in The North Face's kit when the games are underway this July and August.