BERLIN (AFP) – Beach volleyball players will be able to wear bikinis for an upcoming tournament in Qatar, the sport’s governing body said on Tuesday (Feb 23), after two Germans and their coach vowed to boycott the event amid a row over strict dress regulations.
Karla Borger and Julia Sude told German media at the weekend they would skip the FIVB World Tour competition in Doha over an apparent bikini ban.
On Monday, the Qatar volleyball association said it was “not making any demand on what athletes should wear at the event”.
Yet Borger and Sude’s manager Constantin Adam said this was “not true”, pointing to the regulations, which are available on the World Tour website, from Feb 16.
They stated that “it is expected that all participating women’s teams use a short sleeve t-shirt… and wear knee-long sports shorts”.
However, those rules were updated later on Tuesday.
The International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) clarified the situation, telling AFP the Qatari association had assured it that there would be “no restrictions on female players wearing standard uniforms”.
“The FIVB believes strongly that women’s beach volleyball, as all sport, should be judged on performance and effort, and not on uniform,” it added.
“Therefore, during the competition in Doha, should players request to wear the standard uniform, they will be free to do so.”
In a decision supported by the German volleyball federation, Borger and Sude said on Saturday that they “would not go along with” the rules imposed for competition in Qatar.
“It’s not about whether we have more or less clothing on, it’s about the fact that we are not being allowed to wear our work clothes to do our job,” Sude told Der Spiegel magazine.
Her team-mate Sude pointed out that Qatar had previously made exceptions for female track and field athletes competing at the World Athletics Championships in Doha in 2019.
The country also allowed female beach volleyball players to compete in bikinis at the ANOC World Beach Games in 2019.
Germany’s women’s national team coach Helke Claasen said she would not travel to Qatar either.
“She told me she won’t go (to Qatar), because she doesn’t feel respected there as a woman,” Niclas Hildebrand, the sporting director of the German volleyball federation told Sueddeutsche daily.
Qatar has hosted an increasing number of major sporting events in recent decades, though its human rights record, lack of sporting history and brutally hot weather make it a controversial venue.