German beach volleyball duo boycott Qatar over bikini issue
German beach volleyball stars Karla Borger and Julia Sude have announced that they will be boycotting a tournament in Qatar next month, as it was "the only country" where players were banned from wearing bikinis on the pitch.
"We are there to do our work, but are prevented from wearing our work clothes," Borger told the radio station Deutschlandfunk on Sunday.
"This is really the only country and the only tournament where a government tells us how to do our job - we criticize that."
The Qatar Volleyball Federation responded to the news by stating that it is "committed to making all athletes feel welcome and comfortable at next month's event".
They said that all athletes are free to participate in their international uniforms.
"We want to make it clear that we do not have any requirements for the athletes' clothing," emphasized a statement.
Qatar is hosting the upcoming FIVB World Tour event, but strict rules of dressing on the pitch have resulted in World Cup silver medalist Borger and her doubles partner Sude avoiding the event.
The tournament in March marks the first time Doha has hosted a World Tour event for women, despite the fact that the city has been an integral part of the men's tour for seven years.
However, players were asked to wear shirts and long trousers instead of the usual bikinis, a rule that the global beach volleyball association FIVB describes as "out of respect for the culture and traditions of the host country".
In a decision supported by the German volleyball association DVV, Borger and Sude told Spiegel magazine at the weekend that they would "not comply" with the rules imposed by the Qatari authorities.
Borger said they would normally like to "adjust to any country," but that Doha's extreme heat meant bikinis were necessary.
Her teammate Sude pointed out that Qatar had previously made exceptions for female athletes competing in the 2019 World Athletics Championships in Doha.
The country also allowed female beach volleyball players to compete in bikinis at the 2019 ANOC World Beach Games.
Although not as hot as in the scorching summer months, temperatures in the Gulf State can reach up to 30 degrees Celsius in March.
In an interview with Deutschlandfunk on Sunday, Borger asked whether Qatar was a suitable host country.
"We ask if it is even necessary to have a tournament there," she said.
Qatar has hosted a growing number of major sporting events over the past few decades, though its human rights record, lack of sports history and brutally hot weather make it a controversial venue.
Heat and humidity were major issues during the road races at last year's World Athletics Championships in Doha.
Discriminatory labor practices and alleged human rights abuses in Qatar were scrutinized ahead of next year's soccer World Cup.
kih / hmn / ryj / bsp / td
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