Female beach volleyball players back out of Qatar tourney over dress code

The International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) World Tour is heading to Doha, Qatar next month, but two Olympic stars of the sport will not be in attendance. German athletes Karla Borger and Julia Sude, both of whom have competed at the highest levels in the sport, are refusing to attend because they have been told that they can’t compete in their usual bikini attire. Like me, you might be thinking that this is yet another cultural clash with the authorities in an Islamic nation trying to impose their restrictive dress codes for women on the competitors, but that’s actually not the case. It was the FIVB that made the decision. Either way, it’s not sitting well with the players, particularly when you consider that the temperatures during the tournament are expected to be over 100 degrees. (Fox News)

German professional beach volleyball stars Karla Borger and Julia Sude said Sunday they will not be going to Qatar for a tournament over an issue involving their playing attire.

Borger represented Germany in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro but lost, along with teammate Britta Buthe, in the round of 16. The pair won silver at the Beach Volleyball World Championships in 2013. Sude had partnered mostly with Chantal Labouruer during her career. Sude and Borger have been teammates since 2019.

“We are there to do our job, but are being prevented from wearing our work clothes,” Borger 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 criticizing that.”

Borger went on to question why a tournament is being held there at all, given the brutal temperatures and playing conditions.

But what about the bikini rule? All of the women were asked to wear long shirts and trousers. A spokesperson for the FIVB said that the decision was made “out of respect for the culture and traditions of the host country.”

But that doesn’t seem to be the position of the host country. The Qatar Volleyball Association told the media that all of the athletes are allowed to wear the national uniforms of their country as they normally would. In the case of the German women’s team, that means bikinis with the letters “GER” on the tops. “We would like to make clear that we are not making any demand on what athletes should wear at the event,” the spokesperson said.

Further, it was pointed out by the players that bikinis were not banned in 2019 when Qatar was selected to host the World Athletics Championships. Bikinis were similarly allowed in that country for the 2019 ANOC World Beach Games, and as far back as the 2006 Asian Games.

So who at the FIVB came up with this plan to force the players into long shirts and trousers when Qatar wasn’t even making an issue out of it? One might think that they would be happy to see a country like Qatar loosening up a bit when it comes to such matters. It sounds like yet another European sports organization is making poor, politicized decisions along the same lines as the many screwups we’ve seen coming from the International Olympic Committee. What’s next for the FIVB? Will they ask the women to play in full burqas?