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In the same week that the Tokyo Games officially gets underway, a sport that isn't even at the Olympics has captured worldwide attention.
But it's for all the wrong reasons.
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The Norwegian women's team was fined approximately $2400 at the European Beach Handball Championships on Monday after players wore shorts instead of bikini bottoms.
The team showed up for their bronze medal match against Spain wearing shorts, which is against the rules set by the International Handball Federation.
The European Handball Federation said the shorts were "not according to the athlete uniform regulations defined in the IHF beach handball rules of the game."
The 10 members of the team were fined 150 euros each ($240) for not wearing bikini bottoms as required.
Regulations state: “Women should wear a bikini where the top should be a tight-fitting sports bra with deep openings at the arms.
"The bottom must not be more than ten centimetres on the sides.”
The Norwegian captain claimed to national broadcaster NRK that the team had been threatened with disqualification if they didn't wear bikini bottoms.
“So then we are forced to play with panties. It is so embarrassing,” she said.
“First we were told about a fine of 50 euros per person per match, something that would have landed us a fine of about 4,850 euros ($A7760).
"We accepted that. However, just before the match we were told that we will be disqualified if we play like that. So we had to go with the bikini bottoms.”
This is what they have to wear. They say these bottoms make them feel unnecessarily sexualized + uncomfortable when they have their periods and the likes. They will however play in them as long as they are mandatory by the CEV. pic.twitter.com/OYmmS5PyGi
— Tradia (@amalieskram) July 15, 2021
Sporting world erupts over 'disgusting' rule
The Norwegian Handball Federation has come out in support of the players and offered to pay the fines.
"We are very proud of these girls who are at the European Championships in beach handball," the federation said in a statement.
"They raised their voice and told us that enough is enough. We are the Norwegian Handball Federation and we stand behind you and support you.
"We will continue to fight to change the international regulations for attire so that players can play in the clothing they are comfortable with."
While they didn't win their bronze medal match, the players said they are overwhelmed by the support they've received from all around the world for taking a stand against the "nonsense rule."
France's team manager Valerie Nicolas said her players had expressed similar reservations about the rule on bikini bottoms.
“We have lost players due to the suits,” she told newspaper Verdens Gang.
“The players tell me they are uncomfortable, feel naked, and watched. It is a sport with a lot of movement and you are hindered by the bikini.
"There is also discomfort associated with menstruation and not least religion.”
Tennis legend Martina Navratilova was among those to savage the shocking furore on social media, tweeting: “That is just ridiculous”.
Others labelled it "sexist" and "disgusting".
UPDATE: the women demonstratively wore shorts to their bronze final match against Spain in spite of the rules and the Norwegian handball federation has said it will pay the fine for the girls. Hopefully the IHF won't make real of their previous threats to disqualify them. pic.twitter.com/WLlMjTQSv8
— Tradia (@amalieskram) July 18, 2021
It’s horrific 🤬 how can anyone say this is not disgusting sexism ?
— I've had enough thanks 💚🤍💜 (@lou_loupy) July 16, 2021
This is just awful. Do the men have to wear tiny speedos?
— Lisa #BleedingHeartLiberal 🏡 (@Itsagoodlife48G) July 17, 2021
I don’t get why so many organisations feel the need to dresscode girls. The worst part is not even the dresscoding, it’s the fact they refuse to change the rules after girls have repeatedly brought their concerns to them.
Who benefits from this?
— Vince Jr. (@vincebenieaux) July 17, 2021
For anyone curious, this is a group shot of both beach handball teams from Norway. pic.twitter.com/sJdnlsojzB
— Ina Aletheia (@inaaletheia) July 18, 2021
@ihf_info the Norwegian Handball team want to wear shorts to play but you insist they wear bikini bottoms & yet the men have long shorts? I don't understand why, if it's ok for women to wear tiny bottoms why not the men too? Surely this is sexist & needs changing. pic.twitter.com/ZCIR2oaXk7
— HH 3.5% #FBPA 💙🇪🇺🇬🇧 (@hartsfleurs) July 17, 2021
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