By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News
Two German professional beach volleyball players have threatened to boycott an upcoming tournament in Qatar due to a ban on bikinis for women competing in the sport.
Both members of Germany’s national beach volleyball team, Karla Borger, an Olympian, and Julia Sude, said in a statement they would “refuse to go along” with the dress code imposed by the Gulf kingdom.
Ahead of the FIVB World Tour competition in Doha, which is due to take place in March, policies on the event’s official site explained that “out of respect for the culture and traditions of the host country,” female players would not be allowed to wear bikini-like uniforms, which are the standard attire for women in beach volleyball.
“It is expected that all participating women’s teams use a short-sleeve t-shirt … and wear knee-long sports shorts,” the site read.
Borger and Sude publicly spoke out against the policy. The pair said that the weather in Qatar, which can rise to 86 degrees Fahrenheit in March, necessitated a cooler uniform.
But beyond practical concerns, the bikini ban is a matter of principle, they explained.
“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.
“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 noted female athletes competed in bikinis during the World Athletics Championships in Doha in 2019.
Borger’s and Sude’s coach, Helke Claasen, supported her players and said she would be unwilling to travel to Qatar if the uniform rule remained in place.
“[Claasen] told me she won’t go [to Qatar], because she doesn’t feel respected there as a woman,” Niclas Hildebrand, the director of the German volleyball federation, told Suddeutsche Zeitung.
After backlash grew, the FIVB site removed the female uniform guidelines from its site. The Qatar Volleyball Association released a statement backtracking on the policy.
“We would like to make clear that we are not making any demand on what athletes should wear at the event…athletes are free to compete in international uniforms as they would in other countries.
“We are greatly looking forward to welcoming some of the world’s best athletes to Doha for this prestigious competition and showcasing how during these difficult times Qatar remains able to host safe, inclusive and state-of-the-art sports events.”
Borger and Sude have not released a statement on whether they will now compete in Qatar.