Photographs by David J. Phillip and Natasha Pisarenko
Following the delayed Tokyo Summer Olympics held in late July 2021, the 2022 Winter Olympics – which spanned over the month of February – was hosted by China amidst their many human rights violations against ethnic Uyghurs and Tibetans. Last December, United States President Joe Biden announced the U.S.’s diplomatic boycott – in which no government official will attend any of the Olympic events – of the Beijing Winter Olympics with Australia, Britain, and Canada quickly following suit. Additionally, with the looming threat of the Omicron variant, this year’s Olympics was like no other as the Chinese government set up numerous guidelines (e.g. daily tests, limited social interactions, contact-tracing apps) to ensure limited COVID-19 positivity rates.
Pivoting away from their previous long-term Olympic clothing collaborator Hudson’s Bay, Canada debuted a new contract for Olympic wear with Canadian-American athletic apparel retailer Lululemon. Though limited in their nation’s two flag colors, the Canadian team’s opening and closing ceremony outfits were chosen to be an homage to the Canadian flag yet simple enough to be worn on a day-to-day basis. The Canadian opening ceremony outfits were adorned with different shades of red and the entire team sported puffer jackets, scarves, and gloves. In contrast, for the closing ceremony, the Canadian team was dressed monochromatically in white, and this look was topped off with a beanie with the words “CANADA” written out.
Despite their three-member delegation, the Colombian knit ruanas worn during the opening and closing ceremony stood out, especially since most countries wore puffer jackets and wool peacoats. Ruanas are a poncho-style coat native to Colombia, particularly in the central region, and the Ruanas for the Olympics were designed by Rebanca Fabricsan Artisanal Fashion Workshop, located in Boyacá. Team Colombia showcased a more unique way to honor a country and its culture beyond merely national colors.
Nathan Crumpton, who competed in skeleton, served as the sole flag-bearer for the American Samoans in the opening and closing ceremonies. Crumpton wore a traditional Samoan outfit composed of a tapa cloth made from mulberry bark, a fuiono headpiece ornamented with shells, and a feathered kiki fulumoa at his waist. Subsequently, he made numerous headlines and set off multiple Twitter trends for his lack of a shirt and jacket, especially in the 20 degrees Beijing weather.
This year’s Winter Olympics was certainly full of scandal and a whirlwind of emotions with Russia’s Kamila Valieva – the 15-year-old figure skater who was found out to be doping – and Mikaela Shiffrin – the American skier expected to bring home another gold medal following her previous three Olympic gold victories and had to go home empty-handed. All of which culminated in this year’s Olympics having the lowest viewership compared to the previous winter games. Ultimately, the Olympics serve to showcase the diversity of the participating countries and their different cultures, which is notably highlighted through their opening and closing ceremony attire.