BEACH volleyball stars have threatened to boycott an event in Qatar next month over a ban on the wearing of bikinis.
German players Karla Borger and Julia Sude have announced that they will not take part in an FIVB World Tour event in the Gulf state because of restrictions being placed on what they can wear.
What’s the issue?
The contest comes with a dress code. Participants will be expected to wear shirts and long trousers “out of respect for the culture and traditions of the host country.”
This has not gone down well?
Not with the world championships silver medallist Borger and her doubles partner Sude.
“We are there to do our job, but we are being prevented from wearing our work clothes,” Borger has told a German radio station. “This is really the only country and the only tournament where a government tells us how to do our job – we are criticising that.”
Are bikinis really work clothes, though?
Yes, according to Borger and Sude. They also point out that Qatar’s climate means that even in March, when the tournament is scheduled to take place, the temperature can reach 30 degrees. In that case, they argue, a bikini is suitable attire.
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Is this a new problem?
In Qatar, it is. This will be the first women’s beach volleyball tournament the country has hosted. However, it has been pointed out that Qatar has made clothing exceptions before for female athletes at the World Athletics Championships in Doha in 2019.
Why do beach volleyball players wear bikinis in the first place?
Because it’s what they are used to. Beach Volleyball became an Olympic sport in 1996 and bikinis were the accepted costume, though body suits were also permitted for when the temperature dropped.
The rules were updated in 2012 to allow the wearing of shorts and sleeved tops in a bid to embrace wider religious and cultural requirements, but most players continue to wear bikinis.
Is a country with extreme weather and a questionable record in human rights really the best place to be hosting these sporting events anyway?
Good question. Yesterday the Guardian reported that more than 6,750 workers from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have died in Qatar in the 10 years since the Gulf state embarked on a huge building programme after being named as the hosts of the World Cup next year.
It’s impossible to say how many of those deaths were directly linked to the resulting major construction schemes, which include the building of seven new stadiums, a new airport, transport systems and even a new city. But a spokesman for an advocacy group specialising in labour rights in the Gulf believes many of the deaths occurred amongst those working on these infrastructure projects.
In the past Amnesty International has claimed that workers on the Khalifa stadium in Doha were exploited and threatened. Some had their passports confiscated and others were subject to forced labour.
But there’s no likelihood of a boycott of next year’s World Cup finals.