A Field Guide to the Tattoos of the Tokyo Games

Which ink will take the podium?

One of the great gifts of the Summer Olympics is that the warm weather lets sports fans really get to know the athletes on an epidermal level. Whereas Winter Olympians are generally bundled up from head to toe, Summer Olympians always have ample opportunity to show the world some skin. They have taken full advantage of this opportunity in Tokyo this year, and though the Tokyo Games themselves will soon conclude, the memories of the many tattoos sported by countless Olympic athletes will remain with us forever.

The Tokyo Games have been a tattoo enthusiast’s paradise. Pretty much every single event has been guaranteed to have at least one competitor flaunting some ink: a set of Olympic rings on the ankle, a pair of wings on the shoulder blades, a scary tree on the bicep. Some Olympians’ tattoos are impressive, or even moving; others are confusing, or plainly regrettable. Over the past two weeks, I have marveled at the full spectrum of Olympic body art. Now, with the Games almost over, it’s time to rank the top contenders and hand out some medals.

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