Why do the beaming athletes at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics have tape on their faces?
Several skiers have been spotted wearing athletic tape over their cheeks and noses to shield their faces from the harsh wind and severe temperatures.
Many of them are wearing KT Tape, or kinesiology tape, an elastic sports tape originally created to support muscles and joints and provide drug-free pain relief.
It's a trend first seen at the Winter Olympics in 2018 in PyeongChang, when Alpine skier Ted Ligety wore a strip of USA-branded tape prominently across his nose and cheeks.
KT Tape is often spotted on shoulders or muscles at the Summer Olympics. Tom Brady notably wore KT Tape on his injured hand.
But for the winter athletes, it's more like a shield than a pain reliever. However, the tape was never designed to protect winter athletes from freezing conditions.
“We’ve seen KT Tape used as protection against the wind in winter sports over the years, so although it isn’t a clinically approved usage, we appreciate the ingenuity," Greg Venner, CEO & President of KT Tape, told TODAY.
Still, in light of the harsh weather on the slopes, many athletes are turning to tape to protect the areas of their faces that can’t be shielded with goggles or masks.
As of now, there is no research that proves KT Tape is an effective barrier against cold temperatures. In fact, the company warns that the tape can be difficult to remove.
"KT Tape doesn’t endorse the use of kinesiology tape on the face as it isn’t clinically tested, and the adhesive that works so well to keep tape in place to provide long-lasting muscle and joint support can be a bit more difficult to remove from the delicate skin on the face," Venner said.
"However, we certainly applaud the creativity – we are proud to support Team USA!”
The jury may still be out on the actual, medical benefits of face-taping, but for now, expect to see athletes continuing the trend.