Two high-profile beach volleyball players are planning on boycotting an upcoming tournament in Qatar over requests for female players to wear trousers and shirts on court.
German stars Karla Borger and Julia Sude have vowed not to attend the upcoming FIVB World Tour event in the Middle Eastern nation over the request, despite the Qatar Volleyball Association insisting players were not bound by the request.
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Speaking to the Deutschlandfunk radio station over the weekend, Borger said she and Sude were taking a stand after being advised against wearing their 'work clothes' while playing.
"We are there to do our job, but are being prevented from wearing our work clothes," Borger said.
“This is really the only country and the only tournament where a government tells us how to do our job — we are criticising that.”
A statement from the Qatar Volleyball Association stated athletes were free to wear their existing national uniforms, explaining that they were 'committed to ensuring that all athletes are made to feel welcome and comfortable at next month’s event'.
“We would like to make clear that we are not making any demand on what athletes should wear at the event,” the statement read.
Beach volleyball players fume over bikini request
Female players have been asked to wear shirts and trousers for the first women's beach volleyball event to be held in Qatar, which has hosted men's events for the last seven years.
The international governing body for the sport, the FIVB (Fédération Internationale de Volleyball) said the request had been made 'out of respect for the culture and traditions of the host country'.
However Borger and Sude, already unwilling to attend the tournament, questioned the wisdom of hosting athletic events in Qatar, concerned by a combination of brutally hot and humid conditions for athletes, the nation's questionable human rights record and its lack of notable sporting history.
“We are asking whether it’s necessary to hold a tournament there at all,” Borger said.
The IAAF World Athletics Championships in 2019, which were held in the Qatar capital of Doha, also generated substantial controversy thanks to the unsuitable conditions.
The event drew few spectators and the extreme heat caused significant problems for athletes in a variety of sports, most notably the marathon runners.
At the time, decathlon star and Olympic silver medallist Kevin Mayer labelled the event a 'catastrophe'.
"We can all see it's a disaster, there is no-one in the stands, and the heat has not been adapted at all," he said.
"There have already been nearly 30 withdrawals in the women's marathon. It's sad.
"We have to leave reason aside and more concentrate on the passion, because if not I would have boycotted these championships.
"We haven't really prioritised athletes when organising the championships here. It makes it difficult."
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