If hosting the Olympics were an event in itself, China would certainly have won gold. The stories leading up to Beijing were all about pollution, oppression, and politics; the news during the games was about the incredible spectacle and record-breaking feats of athleticism -- with just a few controversies mixed in to keep things interesting.
But enough of allegedly underage gymnasts, disputed decisions, doping disqualifications, split-second timing devices, and lip-synching performers. What about the Olympic dress codes?
Too Buoyant? After swimmers wearing Speedo's LZR Racer repeatedly toppled world records, some coaches and officials charged that the suit offered an unfair advantage and might run afoul of rules that bar adding buoyancy. The Italian team coach even referred to the Speedo as "technological doping" -- at least until one of his swimmers won gold while otherwise attired.
Too Bare? While past international gymnastics competitions have seen point deductions for leotards that were a bit too revealing, it was women's beach volleyball -- and NBC's incessant un-coverage of it -- that caused controversy. Apparently the rules that put babes in bikinis and guys in shorts and tank tops were established almost a decade ago, but eyebrows (and television ratings) are still raised.
The official regulations of the Federation International de Volleyball are somewhat flexible and gender neutral, allowing either bathing suits or shorts with tank tops optional. However, they defer to specific tournament regulations -- and the extensive Olympic rules apparently specify the skimpiest possible costume for women and the most modest for men (shirts required). It's not clear what the athletes themselves would prefer, but how many guys wear shirts on the beach?
Too familiar? And then there was the shopping. Gymnast Shawn Johnson apparently planned to celebrate her Olympic victories with a trip to Beijing's notorious Silk Market, whence a false prophet had whispered that True Religion jeans were available for a mere USD $12. Sure -- and that medal is solid, 24-karat gold.
Tourists, too, were lured with not only illegal labels but also enthusiastic adaptations, like these "I heart China" T-shirts snapped by lee on the road. (Note to New York: We still love you, too.)
No doubt London, which has the unenviable role of following a championship Chinese performance, will have its own clothing-related controversies in 2012. Of course, the IOC could always simplify matters by reverting to the dress code of the original Olympics -- laurel wreaths optional.