Spanish Olympians are learning a painful lesson as they suit up for Friday’s Opening Ceremony in London: You get what you pay for.
With Spain on the brink of bankruptcy, its Olympic committee decided to save money this year. It got its Olympic uniforms for free, from the Russian designer Bosco, which also provided kit for the Russian and Ukrainian teams.
But several Spanish athletes have taken to Twitter to express their distaste for the freebie clothes they’re required to wear. After an outcry over U.S. Olympic outfits made in China, Spain’s Olympians have a different gripe about their uniforms: They’re just plain ugly.
“I’d better not comment. I leave that to you,” tweeted Spanish rower Saul Craviotto, who posted a photo of himself cringing in his garish new uniform, complete with a flashy matching backpack. Craviotto won a gold medal four years ago in Beijing.
“Olympic outfit, there aren’t enough adjectives,” tweeted the Catalan field hockey player Alex Fabregas, a silver medalist four years ago. He also posted a photo of himself in his official warm-up suit, a bright red-and-yellow ensemble reminiscent of a high school marching band’s drum major.
Carlos Moya, a former World No. 1 tennis player from Spain, expressed relief that he’s retired — and won’t have to wear the ensemble, with its mix of ketchup-and-mustard colors that look designed for a tacky 1970s race car driver — or perhaps Ronald McDonald.
Writing about his colleague, tennis star Feliciano Lopez, Moya posted on Twitter: “He’ll never have worn anything so ugly in his life.”
Lopez struck a diplomatic tone in his reply, tweeting back that the new uniform is “loud, very loud.”
“But it’s what we have, man,” he wrote. “Spain is different and it always will be.”
Spanish officials acknowledge that they chose the outfits because they were free.
“When you measure the difference between paying one and a half million [euros] of public money and free clothes, there is no discussion,” committee president Alejandro Blanco recently told a Spanish radio station. That amounts to $1.8 million versus nothing.
Responding to criticism from athletes and fans, Blanco added: “The outfits are what we have, and we cannot change them now. They were decided upon more than a year and a half ago.”
Like American companies, Spanish firms are also upset they weren’t asked to manufacture their national team’s uniforms.
But they probably would have charged for the job.