Malaysian contingent uniforms come under fire, Hannah Yeoh deflects criticism, netizens compare with other countries’ designs

SHAH ALAM – The costumes worn by Malaysian athletes at the upcoming Paris Olympics have sparked controversy online, with many criticising the designs as unoriginal and lacking national pride.

The uniform, unveiled at the 2024 Olympic Day celebrations at the TRX Exchange in Kuala Lumpur on June 23, was intended to symbolise Malaysia’s bid to win its first Olympic gold medal but was met with widespread opposition.

Budget constraints and blame games

However, comments on social media slammed the design, calling it simple, unoriginal and a disgrace for such a prestigious event.

The Olympic Committee of Malaysia (OCM) cited sponsors’ budget constraints as the main reason for the disappointing design.

They stressed that the uniforms are funded by sponsors, not the government.

OCM secretary-general Datuk Mohamed Nazifuddin Najib said the outfit was developed under several constraints, including budgetary restrictions from sponsors.

He stressed that the funds for the uniforms come from sponsors, not the government.

“Sponsors are limited in what they can provide within their budget, and choosing a premium design increases the cost to the sponsor,” he said.

Najhuddin said the current design would be used for travel and event attendance during the Olympics, with a different design to be unveiled at the opening ceremony.

He also said feedback from players and officials would be taken into consideration in future designs.

Meanwhile, Minister of Youth and Sports Hannah Yeo clarified in an interview that the Ministry of Youth and Sports (KBS) and the National Sports Commission (MSN) have no control over the design.

“The costumes are MOM’s responsibility and a collaboration with Yonex and are outside the jurisdiction of KBS and MSN,” she was quoted as saying.

An Instagram post by OCM announcing the outfit received mostly negative reactions.

One user bluntly criticised the uniforms, calling them “ugly” and questioning the approval process, while another said the design was “school-level” and inappropriate for the Olympics.

There have been multiple calls for the design to be revised, with some expressing concern that the current attire could embarrass the delegation.

Local celebrities and social media influencers also joined in the criticism.

Actor Awal Ashari sarcastically commented on the viral post, saying: “Are we making them (Malaysian athletes) wear this and expecting them to win gold medals?”

Fitness social media influencer Muhammad Kalish said: “Is this the official photo revealing the costume?”

Meanwhile, social media influencer Azfar Herishyam, popularly known as Azfar Heli, has added to the discontent by voicing his unhappiness with the design.

Comparisons with other countries’ Olympic uniforms have further intensified the controversy.

Twitter user @Januarhaikal highlighted the excellent designs from other countries, such as America’s Ralph Lauren sportswear and France’s fashion-forward approach.

He argued that Malaysia was lagging behind despite having designers like Bernard Chandran, Jimmy Choo and Risalman Ibrahim.

He also pointed out that the Canadian team, sponsored by Lululemon, has multiple official costumes for different events, a total of four sets of costumes, setting high standards that Malaysia has not met.

Reddit users echoed the criticism.

@nowherefarhan commented: “This jacket is so 90s. It’s hilarious that they used a mannequin instead of an actual athlete.”

Another Reddit user, @komer25, said: “The mannequins look like they’re really twitching. You can’t even get a decent looking one.”

@risetoeden expressed their disappointment, saying: “It looks so gloomy and dark. I hope the athletes stay strong while competing because it looks awful. Shame on the ministry.”

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