Why Team USA’s Olympics face masks make them look like Batman villains

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The US Olympic team is standing out at the Tokyo games in more ways than one. Viewers have noticed Team USA wears a very distinct face mask on the medal podium — where they’ve been quite a bit already. 

Their white masks look kind of like individual face accordions, featuring a pleated front and a jutting profile, with the letters “USA” in red on one side. The masks have led social-media users to compare the team members to everyone from Batman villain Bane to fictional cannibal Hannibal Lector.

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Team USA’s masks are made by Nike, and the specific style is called the Nike Venturer. While Team USA is wearing white masks, Nike is advertising black masks on its website. At $60, they’re not cheap, and they’re not yet available for purchase. A representative for Nike told CNET, “the mask will soon be available for consumers” but didn’t offer an exact date.

“The world is your stadium, but urban landscapes can bring grime to your game,” the online description reads. “Strap on Nike’s first performance mask of its kind made for optimal breathability. Designed for sport, built in nose cushion and chin insert helps it stay in place when you’re going hard.”

“The unique origami-inspired pleated design allows for optimal air flow and air volume within the lightweight, mesh mask,” Nike said in its statement. Origami, the art of paper folding, has a long history in Japan, which hosts this year’s Olympics.

Bane, is that you?

Some social-media users felt the masks made wearers look like Bane, the creepy Batman villain, memorably played by Tom Hardy in 2012’s The Dark Knight Rises.

“You too can look like Bane on the medal stand of life with the Nike Venturer facemask for the low, low price of $60,” wrote one Twitter user.

Said another, “Team USA masks for the podium look like the medalists are about to close off Gotham’s bridges and become allies with darkness.”

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Dog muzzle? Hannibal Lecter?

Olympics watchers found plenty of other things to which they could compare the Team USA face mask, from dog muzzles to space shuttles to creepy cannibal Hannibal Lecter.

One person thought they kind of looked like dog muzzles.

“Who ever designed USA face mask is a really big dog lover and it shows,” wrote one Twitter user.

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Love it! Hate it!

Whatever the mask looked like, opinions were mixed. 

“Whoever designed the mask for the US athletes really did them dirty,” wrote one Twitter user.

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Yet some wanted to buy their own, with one person writing, “That mask looks like it could be really comfortable. Honestly, I want to know more.”

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You’ll be seeing more of the outsized masks — the Tokyo Olympics run through Aug. 8.

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