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Where EAST meets the Northwest


Yan Peng of China. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

Olympics rings tattoo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

TABOO TATTOOS. A tattoo on the arm of Yan Peng of China, top photo, a men’s 3-on-3 basketball player, is seen during the 2020 Summer Olympics on July 25, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. In the bottom photo, water droplets fall down the back of a swimmer and across an Olympics rings tattoo during the Tokyo Olympics.

From The Asian Reporter, V31, #8 (August 2, 2021), page 5.

Taboo in Tokyo, tattoos on display at Olympics

TOKYO (AP) — Taboo in much of Tokyo, tattoos are everywhere at the Olympics.

There’s the lion on British swimmer Adam Peaty’s shoulder. An inspirational message on the arm of Chinese 3-on-3 basketball player Yan Peng. A likeness of Christ the Redeemer on the calf of Spanish boxer Gabriel Escobar Mascunano.

And the Olympic rings. So many Olympic rings.

French swimmer Fantine Lasaffre has them on her left forearm, and American shooter Kayle Browning on her right wrist. They’re on Moroccan boxer Abdelhaq Nadir’s left bicep, and on the ankle of Canadian gymnast Shallon Olsen.

Italian gymnast Vanessa Ferrari has them, too, on the back of her neck — along with ink commemorating previous trips to the Beijing, London, and Rio de Janiero Games.

Athletes won’t do much mingling with locals at these pandemic-restricted Olympics. If they did, they might not find their body art as welcome. Tattoos remain stigmatized in Japan, where those with them are commonly banned from beaches, gyms, pools, and elsewhere around Japan.

No such restrictions in the Olympic bubble, though. In the pool, on the beach, at the range — the athletes are redefining what it means to have the mark of a champion.

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