x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Olympics: demand soars for tourist tattoo that is truly indelible

Demand for Olympic tattoos described as ripple effect from seeing tattoos on swimmers' buff bodies.

LONDON // The British capital is awash in Olympic ink - tattoo ink, that is.

At Olympic venues around London, competitors flaunt marks of blood, sweat, tears - and hopefully glory - on toned arms, hips and torsos.

But tattoos of the Olympic logo - the five interlocked rings - aren't just for the world's top athletes. Amateurs, performers at the opening ceremony and tourists as well have been inspired to get the Olympic spirit under their skin.

And it's not just in London: thousands of kilometres away in Chicago, the freelance writer Arika Kaosa says she is planning to ink the Olympic rings on the back of her left ankle next week.

"I love how the colours of the rings represent colours in flags of all the national teams originally in Olympic competition," said Ms Kaosa, 25, who has been following the Games on television at home.

"I will use this tattoo as a positive motivator to get back into the level of performing I was previously at" in tennis, she said.

In the Olympic host city, tattoo parlours say they have been getting extra business from athletes and other people involved in the games.

The art is most visible on swimmers - Michael Phelps has the rings on his hip, and fellow Americans Ryan Lochte and Matthew Grevers sport them on their biceps. The British diver Nicholas Robinson-Baker has a large coloured one on his chest, while Canada's Brent Hayden complements large tattoos on his torso and arms with the rings - adorned with a maple leaf - on his back.

Also spotted on bodies across London this week: butterflies, a mammoth, tattoo sleeves, a Bible verse, crosses and roses.

But the plain Olympic rings are the most popular choice for tourists and fans who want a permanent souvenir of their trip.

"They're mainly Americans - there's a hell of a lot of Americans in town," said Darryl Gates, owner of Diamond Jacks, a tattoo parlour in London's Soho area.

Supporters of the British home team are getting something more patriotic.

"We did the Team GB lion logo on two athletes who came in on opening ceremony day," said Scott Maclaren at the Fulham Tattoo Centre. The stylised head of the lion has streaks of colour resembling the Union flag.

Those considering getting an Olympic tattoo may want to stick to the simpler designs. One US visitor picked a more elaborate one and it will make her remember the London Games - but for all the wrong reasons.

Jerri Peterson wanted to commemorate her moment as an Olympic torchbearer, but her tattoo artist in the US state of Georgia misspelt Olympic. Her body art reads "Oylmpic Torch Bearer" instead.

"I looked at it and I was so disappointed. I called my husband and he giggled a little bit," Ms Peterson, from Atlanta, said. "Then