Beach volleyball bikinis now permitted at Doha

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Germany’s Karla Borger playing at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. AFP

Beach volleyball players will be allowed to wear bikinis for an upcoming tournament in Qatar, the sport’s governing body said 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 over the weekend that they would skip the FIVB World Tour competition in Doha over an apparent bikini ban.

On February 23, 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 were 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 February 23.

The International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) clarified the situation, saying 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 on February 20 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.