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NEW YORK – The Team USA flag bearers in scorching Tokyo will probably be the coolest members of their pack.

Ralph Lauren has incorporated a personal air conditioning system into a roomy white jacket to wear by as yet unannounced athletes who will have the honor at the opening ceremonies of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, the company said on Wednesday.

The technology disperses heat from the wearer’s skin through a fan at the back of the neck, with a lightweight personal battery controller hidden inside. It sounds like the way mainframes are kept cool.

“The more we can think about our personal space and our personal thermal dynamics, this is the future we will all have to think about,” said David Lauren, son of Ralph Lauren, vice chairman of the board of directors of the company and brand manager and responsible for innovation.

The rest of the team will wear custom-made navy blazers in US-cultivated wool, a red Olympic crest on one chest and the company’s Polo Pony logo on the other.

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They’ll be wearing a blue and white horizontal striped t-shirt dyed in a process that uses less water, chemicals and energy, slim blue denim pants and a flag print scarf.

Athlete’s striped belts are made from recycled plastic water bottles. A patch on the back of the pants is a nod to alternatives to leather, this one is made from plant-based materials and agricultural by-products without synthetic plastic.

And Ralph Lauren has not forgotten the masks. They will be plain navy blue in cotton with a small American flag on one side.

The company opted for crisp white looks with red and blue accents for the closing ceremony uniforms that will be worn by more than 600 Olympic athletes, as well as Paralympians.

Team USA organizers wanted the athletes to “feel red, white and blue” on the outing night, Lauren told the AP ahead of the official unveiling.

The sentiment comes amid growing concern over the spread of COVID just days before the Games open on July 23. The Paralympic Games are scheduled to start on August 24.

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“They wanted products that were fully sustainable, fully forward-looking and fully focused on innovation,” Lauren said via Zoom.

The parade uniforms were made in the United States. Ralph Lauren has been part of Team USA since 2008.

At a Polo Ralph Lauren store in downtown New York, Olympians Daryl Homer and Peter Westbrook recently showed off Tokyo’s looks for the AP, emphasizing comfort and reminiscent of the thrill of their past walks with the American teams. during the parade of nations.

Homer, a silver medalist saber, will make his third Olympic appearance in Tokyo. In 1984, Westbrook was the first African American to win a medal (bronze) in the sport and served as a standard bearer. He is now forming Olympic fencing hopes.

Westbrook recalled his Olympic walk as an overwhelming sense of unity and pride.

“And then, the cream of the crop, we have to fight against each other. With love, “he said.” It’s the most beautiful thing you can experience.

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Homer called the uniforms “very comfortable, very breathable”, although the much-discussed beret every American athlete received for the London Opening Ceremony in 2012 was one of his favorite Olympic pieces.

“I think it’s my second favorite,” he smiles.

It was at the London Games that Ralph Lauren took a little heat for dressing American athletes in uniforms made in China.

The team attire, but not the refreshing element of the flag jacket, is available at select Ralph Lauren stores, department stores and online at RalphLauren.com and TeamUSAShop.com.

Homer tried on the flag bearer jacket and loves the concept.

“If you can cool off, why cool a room? I think that’s a really cool thing, ”he said.

The five-year period rather than the usual four between the Olympics has been difficult for Homer, along with the reduced fanfare and pandemic protocols planned for Tokyo, he said.

“Everyone is really looking forward to participating in the competition,” he said. “One of the bright spots is that the next Games in Paris are three years away, in 2024. But for now, I just want to be where I am.”

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Associated Press video producers Joseph B. Frederick and Alicia Rancilio in New York City contributed to this story.

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