Team USA’s new masks look like … well, you decide

Japan 2020

Katie Ledecky shows off her gold medal. Credit: Getty Images

With all the angst about mask mandates and mask wearing during the COVID-19 pandemic, we can be thankful that the facemasks worn by U.S. Olympians in Tokyo are giving us something to have a little fun with.

The latest version on the Team USA masks are large, boxy, white with red USA letters on the left side and look like:

  • The front grill of a luxury car
  • A sideways accordion
  • A to-go container
  • The mask worn by a movie super villain

While all four answers may be correct, social media is abuzz with Bane comparisons. Photos of the ruthless, masked villain from The Dark Knight Rises can be seen side-by-side next to those of mask-wearing U.S. athletes in Tokyo.

Others are comparing the masks to those worn by Hannibal Lecter or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle (TMNT) villain Shredder. (Another TMNT reference to come). But the Bane comparisons rule on Twitter.

Team USA’s latest face coverings aren’t the only ones to draw attention at the Games.

American Raven Saunders wore a Joker mask during shot put qualifying last week.

For Sunday’s finals, she reprised the TMNT mask she wore at trials while winning a silver medal in Tokyo.

On Friday, U.S. fencers wore pink masks to support victims of sexual assault.

Americans aren’t the only ones drawing attention for their masks, ROC swimmer Evgeny Rylov posed for photos with his gold medal wearing a cat mask.

In a statement to NBC’s Today, mask designer Nike said the “unique origami-inspired pleated design allows for optimal air flow and air volume within the lightweight, mesh mask.

Athletes must wear masks at all Tokyo Olympic Games venues, including medal ceremonies, the International Olympic Committee said on Sunday, but under a new policy they are briefly allowed to remove them on the podium for a photo opportunity.

Masks are mandatory across all venues, both inside and outside, for all athletes, staff and media, as part of Games organizers’ strict measures to combat the coronavirus.

“It’s not a nice to have. It’s a must to have,” said IOC spokesman Mark Adams. “No, there is no relaxation and we would urge and ask everyone to obey the rules.”

Information from Reuters was used in this report.

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