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Beach volleyball stars boycott Qatar tournament over bikini ban

German beach volleyball stars Karla Borger and Julia Sude have said they will boycott a tournament in Qatar because it is “the only country” where players are forbidden from wearing bikinis on court.

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

Qatar is hosting the upcoming FIVB World Tour event but strict rules about on-court clothing have led the world championships silver medallist Borger and her doubles partner Sude to shun the event.

The event in March is the first time that Doha has hosted a women’s beach volleyball event, after seven years hosting a men’s competition.

Yet female players have been asked to wear shirts and long trousers rather than the usual bikinis, a rule which the world beach volleyball federation, FIVB, claims is “out of respect for the culture and traditions of the host country”.

Borger and Sude told Spiegel magazine during the weekend they “would not go along with” the rules imposed by the Qatari authorities. Borger said that they would normally be happy to “adapt to any country”, but that the extreme heat in Doha meant that bikinis were necessary.

Her team mate Sude pointed out that Qatar had previously made exceptions for female track and field athletes competing at the World Athletics Championships in Doha in 2019.

Though not as hot as the scorching summer months, temperatures in the Gulf state can reach as high as 30C (86F) in March.

Speaking to Deutschlandfunk on Sunday, Borger questioned whether Qatar was a suitable host nation.

“We are asking whether it’s necessary to hold a tournament there at all,” she said.

Qatar has hosted an increasing number of major sporting events in recent decades, though its human rights record, lack of sporting 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, while discriminatory labour practices and alleged human rights abuses have been the subject of intense scrutiny ahead of next year’s football World Cup.

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