Beach volleyball officials have been forced into an embarrassing retreat after an angry backlash towards plans to introduce sand trousers.
Bikinis have won the day after officials were forced into an embarrassing retreat over plans to introduce sand trousers for the controversial Katara Beach Volleyball Cup event in Qatar.
Players will be able to wear bikinis for next month’s double-gender, 4-star World Tour event in Doha 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.
It will be just the second time that a women’s beach volleyball event will be staged on the Arabian Peninsula — and the first since October 2008 in Dubai.
It was first communicated to players that female athletes would be asked to wear shirts and long trousers “out of respect for the culture and traditions of the host country”.
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 February 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 them 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 Saturday 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 teammate 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.
“We are there to do our job, but are being prevented from wearing our work clothes,” Borger told radio station Deutschlandfunk on Sunday.
“This is really the only country and the only tournament where a government tells us how to do our job — we are criticising that.”
The Qatar volleyball association reacted to the news by explaining they were “committed to ensuring that all athletes are made to feel welcome and comfortable at next month’s event.”
Though not as hot as the scorching summer months, temperatures in the Gulf state can reach as high as 30C in March.
Heat and humidity were major issues during the road races at last year’s World Athletics Championships held in Doha.
Discriminatory labour practices and alleged human rights abuses in Qatar have been the subject of intense scrutiny ahead of next year’s football World Cup.
— with AFP