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Page last updated at 15:34 GMT, Tuesday, 10 June 2008 16:34 UK

Japan lifts Olympics swimsuit ban

Japanese swimmer Kosuke Kitajima wearing the Speedo LZR Racer swimsuit on Sunday
Japanese swimmer Kosuke Kitajima sporting the Speedo innovation

Japanese swimmers will be allowed to wear cutting-edge swimsuits made by UK-based firm Speedo at the Beijing Olympics, officials have said.

The decision is a U-turn on a previous ruling that allowed only Japanese makes of swimwear to be used.

Swimmers wearing Speedo's LZR Racer suit have smashed 30 world records in previous months - the latest Japanese swimmer Kosuke Kitajima on Sunday.

That had raised the spectre of a revolt against the ban on Speedo.

"In order to get the best results in Beijing we took into account the opinions of the athletes and the coaches," said Kazuo Sano, vice-chairman of the Japanese Swimming Federation.

"Based on that input we have decided to let the athletes choose their swimsuits."

Until now, Japanese swimmers had been contracted to wear only swimwear produced by three domestic companies - and a race had begun to try to develop a fabric to rival that produced by Speedo.

The LZR Racer is made from a hi-tech, water-resistant polyurethane that Speedo claims reduces drag.

On Sunday, the LZR-clad Kitajima set a new 200m world breaststroke record of two minutes, 7.51 seconds, shaving almost a second off the previous record.


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