• Jason Regan

Bikini rule axed in female beach handball

Bikini-style uniforms will no longer be mandated for female beach handball players following protests by players and European lawmakers.


The new wording by the sport's governing body follows a campaign started by the Norwegian national team in July and now allows women to wear "short tight pants" instead of bikinis.


Female beach handball players will no longer be forced to wear bikini-style clothing. (AP PHOTO)

The Norwegian federation was fined because players wore "improper clothing" at the European Championship in July. They had worn shorts to protest the bikini rule.


Team handball's rules ahead of the Tokyo Olympics seemed out of line with an IOC directive to curb overly sexualised images of female athletes. There is still a gender divide in the updated International Handball Federation (IHF) equipment rules.


Female players are told to wear pants "with a close fit" while men's shorts can be "not too baggy." The Switzerland-based IHF updated the rules in a document on its website dated October 3.


Days earlier, the sports ministers from Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Iceland and Finland urged the IHF and other international sports to let athletes "be dressed in a way that suits performance and comfort."


Pop singer Pink had supported the Norwegians and offered to pay the €1,500 ($A2,313)  fine, saying she was "very proud" of the team for challenging the rule.


The pressure now shifts to Beach Volleyball's governing body, The FIVB, to make similar arrangements for female athletes with the sport suffering its own Olympic controversy.


April Ross (far R) and Alix Klineman (far L) of the United States and Mariafe Artacho del Solar and Taliqua Clancy of Australia compete in the women's beach volleyball final at the Tokyo Olympics.

Contrary to popular belief, Beach Volleyball already has put in place rules that enable female athletes more modesty.


The FIVB issued 22 pages of uniform guidelines for the Tokyo Olympic Games, covering everything from fabric and colour to names and numbers and how big manufacturers’ logos can be. Teammates also have to match.


An appendix has drawings of potential styles for women, including short sleeves and tank tops, long sleeves for modesty and long sleeves for warmth, long pants and shorts, and a one-piece bathing suit or a bikini. There are also options for teams with religious dress codes.


However, the uptake of these options in Toyko was minimal. Pressure is mounting on the FIVB to change the dress code to ensure a level playing field for all female athletes and desexualize the sport.