The South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) has unveiled the official kit for Team South Africa ahead of the Tokyo Summer Olympic Games in Japan.

The games will start on July 23 after an initial postponement due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Kit sponsor Mr. Price Sport has partnered with four young, emerging local designers from KwaZulu-Natal to design bold on and off-the-field wear for the Olympic and Paralympic teams.

A toned-down kit revealed due to COVID-19 restrictions could not dull the electric excitement among the small group of Olympians and Paralympians who put on Team SA’s kit for the first time.

So far 64 elite athletes have qualified to compete in Tokyo. This is expected to grow to 200 in the next few weeks.

South Africa’s history with its Olympic kit has not been positive. At the 2016 Rio Olympics athletes complained about the quality from a Chinese manufacturer, labelling it as ill-fitting. Now 5 years later, a collaboration between a leading local sportswear giant and 4 young KwaZulu-Natal fashion designers, has hit the spot.

Head of marketing for Mr Price Sport, Dylan Cherry says, “To support our athletes with a kit that will make them proud to be part of team SA. We’ve been pushed to innovate the athletes’ performance and medal ceremony kit for our athletes from locally produced super lightweight running vests with laser-cut edges and durable rugby sevens kits. An iconic team kit graphic in the form of the protea icon.”

Donning the new kit with a huge grin, 2016 Rio bronze medalist in the shot put, Paralympian Tyrone Pillay, says he plans on giving the Games his all despite the setback of COVID-19.

“You’ve always got to believe in yourself and back yourself, aim for higher. Not being able to train for nearly 6 months. Not being able to go to the gym, throw technically. That’s a real back burner. But I think with the mental aspect of the game you have to prepare yourself and work forward.”

South African sprint canoeist Bridgitte Hartley, who won a bronze medal at the 2012 London Olympics, will this year be playing a special role as a candidate for the International Olympic Committee’s athletes commission.

“When you wear the South African kit you always wear it with pride. The feel of walking into the stadium and the introduction of your Olympic Games is such a special moment.”

Long jump and triple jump Olympian, Khotso Mokoena, showed off the classic white tracksuit with green cuffs. Standing tall and proud, he says he’s expecting a few surprises.

“Athletes are always hungry to go to the games and they didn’t want to miss this one so they stayed ready although the circumstances didn’t allow them at the beginning of the pandemic they worked hard at home and now they are competing and doing well. In the European league and also the diamond league so they hungry to do well and I think it’s going to be a big surprise in Tokyo.”

Sascoc CEO, Ravi Govender, says the athletes have risen above the challenges of the pandemic and are keen to get out the starting gates at Tokyo.

“These games will be very special as our national pride that is team SA will be able to showcase a proudly South African look. Well done and thank you to the designers for offering exclusive and original designs which our athletes are ready to wear with pride as we prepare to descend on Tokyo.”

The Tokyo Olympics kicks off at the Tokyo Olympic Stadium on July 23 as the IOC finalises a stringent set of rules to keep athletes safe amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Foreign spectators will not be allowed.

Olympic, Paralympic body backed by local brand: