Japanese Olympic athletes set to wear infrared uniforms to deter camera creeps

New infrared uniforms are made of a special fabric that better absorbs infrared light, preventing creeps from taking non-consensual pictures using infrared cameras.

While Japan is a country with relatively low crime, it has some specific issues, including non-consensual photography. Cases of non-consensual photography rose in 2023 to a record 5,700 incidents nationwide, with 80% of those crimes committed with smartphones, Unseen Japan reports.

Female athletes are particularly affected by the issue, with men taking pictures and then posting them on social media anonymously or selling them for profit. In some cases, men even target minors.

Sexualized pictures may have serious psychological consequences for athletes. According to Le Monde, Reiko Shiota, a member of the badminton team who competed at the Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Games, witnessed photos of her breasts and lower body widely circulating across the internet.

The athlete said that the presence of cameras disturbed her during many subsequent matches.

Some of the non-consensual pictures are taken in the infrared spectrum. In 2021, former volleyball player Ootomo Ai said she'd fallen victim to infrared photos, as well as people trying to take photos in or near the women's bathroom.

Currently, there are a few smartphones capable of taking pictures in the infrared, including One Plus 8 Pro and Cat S61, while external cameras can enable taking infrared pictures with various other smartphones.

To prevent women from what is known as “photo voyeurism," the Japanese women's volleyball and table tennis teams will wear special clothes in the upcoming summer Olympics in France.

The clothes, made by Japanese sportswear company Mizuno and a few partners, incorporate light-absorbing materials in the infrared range that prevent infrared photos from highlighting the underwear or bodies of female athletes.

Previously, the company made fabrics and materials for its uniforms that blocked visible light.