Two German beach volleyball stars backed out of an upcoming tournament in Qatar after they were told they would have to cover up on court.
The Katara Beach Volleyball Cup shocked competitors by requiring females to ditch their standard bikini uniform for a modest shirt and long pants combo. The International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) said the rule was “out of respect for the culture and traditions of the host country.”
2013 World Championship silver medalist Karla Borger and teammate Julia Sude announced they were planning to boycott the event last week. “We are there to do our job, but are being prevented from wearing our work clothes,” Borger said on a radio show.
Conservative Islamic state Qatar enforces a national women’s dress code of an all black head covering and long dress that can include total face covering. As tourism has flourished in the country, observance of the rule has waned, and women in bikinis can be seen on some beaches.
But officials were pressing for a no bikini policy at the March event, which would be the first time Doha hosts the women’s World Tour, despite being a stop on the men’s tour for the last seven years. “This is really the only country and the only tournament where a government tells us how to do our job – we are criticizing that,” Borger remarked.
Sude commented that the country had already made provisions for the uniforms of female track and field athletes in 2019, and allowed women at the World Beach Games to compete in their bikinis the same year.
“We are asking whether it’s necessary to hold a tournament there at all,” Borger concluded. In addition to the harsh restrictions, Qatar’s extreme heat makes competing outside difficult. Half of the competitors in the World Athletics Championships women’s marathon race dropped out due to the temperature last year.
With the 2022 World Cup around the corner, the nation seems to have back tracked under international scrutiny. The FIVB announced that the Qatar volleyball association amended the uniform rules on Tuesday, there will be “no restrictions on female players wearing standard uniforms”.