The Norwegian ladies’s seaside handball group have been fined as a result of their shorts have been too lengthy, British Paralympian Olivia Breen was informed by an official that her briefs have been too brief and Olympic swimmer Alice Dearing received’t be allowed to put on a swimming cap for pure black hair on the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. Forward of the Video games, set to begin on July 23, feminine athletes are being scrutinised for his or her alternative of sportswear. FRANCE 24 appears at why athletic uniform rules for ladies are so harsh.
The 2021 Tokyo Olympics haven’t even begun and the run-up is already fraught with debate on what feminine athletes ought to or shouldn’t put on.
Double Paralympic world champion Olivia Breen is the most recent Olympic athlete to be caught in a sartorial storm. After competing within the lengthy bounce on the English Championships in Bedford on July 18, an official mentioned her briefs have been “too brief and inappropriate”.
“She mentioned to me that I ought to think about carrying shorts as a result of my briefs have been too revealing,” Breen informed FRANCE 24. “I used to be so taken unexpectedly and gobsmacked that I requested her if she was joking. She mentioned no, and insisted I should purchase a pair of shorts.”
Writing in regards to the incident in a Twitter submit, Breen pointed to a double customary concerning athletic gown codes and questioned whether or not male athletes can be subjected to the identical stage of scrutiny.
“I’ve been carrying the identical model dash briefs for a few years,” she mentioned in her submit. “I recognise that there must be rules and pointers in relation to competitors equipment, however ladies shouldn’t be made to really feel self-conscious about what they’re carrying when competing, [they] ought to really feel comfy and relaxed.”
The 24-year-old says she was in full compliance with athletic uniform rules, which permit athletes in her division to put on sponsor gear (the briefs), so long as in addition they don a membership vest or a nationwide equipment. Their outfits can’t be “objectionable or see-through”.
“It’s 2021, it’s not the 18th century,” she informed FRANCE 24. “I shouldn’t be informed what I can and may’t put on.”
Breen filed an official grievance to England Athletics on Monday, however says she hasn’t heard something again. The younger athlete is about to participate within the Tokyo Paralympics this August and intends on carrying the “contentious” briefs. “I’m not letting them cease me from carrying them. I shall be carrying them in Tokyo,” she mentioned.
Racist measures and double requirements
Breen’s case is on no account singular. Alice Dearing, the primary black swimmer ever to symbolize Group Nice Britain on the Tokyo Olympics, is not going to be allowed to put on the swimming cap made particularly for pure black hair she has been selling.
Earlier this month, the Worldwide Swimming Federation (FINA) banned using swimming caps made particularly to guard dreadlocks, afros, weaves, braids and thick curly hair for the 2021 Video games. Soul Cap, the corporate behind the swimming caps, have been informed by FINA that it was as a result of their product doesn’t match “the pure type of the top”.
In one more effort to sanction feminine athletes for his or her uniforms, the European Handball Federation (EHF) fined the Norwegian ladies’s seaside handball group 1,500 euros for carrying shorts as a substitute of bikini bottoms on the Euro 2021 championships. Calling it a case of “improper clothes”, the EHF mentioned gamers didn’t abide by athlete uniform rules, which require ladies to put on bikini bottoms “with a detailed match and lower on an upward angle towards the highest of the leg” and are decided by the Worldwide Handball Federation.
Male seaside handball gamers, however, are free to put on shorts so long as 10 centimetres above the knee simply so long as they aren’t “too dishevelled”.
The group had approached the EHF earlier than the competitors, asking for permission to play in shorts. They have been informed that any breach of protocol can be met with fines.
Though seaside handball isn’t a part of the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, it’s a stark reminder of the obtrusive double requirements held when athletic uniform rules are devised.
The Worldwide Olympic Committee (IOC), the authority answerable for organising the Olympic Video games, says it’s not chargeable for establishing and imposing uniform rules. As a substitute, it’s as much as worldwide federations for every particular person sport to resolve what the suitable apparel for every gender group is.
In keeping with the newest Olympic Charter revealed by the IOC, they’ve the “sole and unique authority to prescribe and decide the clothes and uniforms to be worn, and the gear for use, by the members of their delegations on the event of Olympic Video games”.
Worldwide sports activities federations don’t make their standards for athletic uniform rules public. FRANCE 24 tried to contact FINA and England Athletics for remark, however obtained no response.
Helen Jefferson Lenskyj, a professor on the College of Toronto and creator of “The Olympic Video games: A Crucial Strategy”, says uniform choices are based mostly on both “sensible concerns associated to the calls for of the game”, “conventional roots just like the GI for martial arts” or gender differentiation. Some federations additionally argue that their choices are purely based mostly on efficiency, or that they guarantee equity.
However Lenskyj sees clear gender discrimination at play, particularly provided that many federations are nonetheless largely run by males. “Sports activities judged on aesthetics like determine skating have clothes guidelines in step with judges’ typically stereotypical views of what a ‘female’ skater ought to look life. Girls’s seaside volleyball uniform rules are based mostly solely on heterosexual intercourse attraction,” she says.
“What’s clear is that plenty of it’s industrial,” Janice Forsyth, former director of Western College’s Worldwide Heart for Olympic Research in Ontario, informed FRANCE 24. “[The international federations] attempt to attraction to what they assume is a heterosexual male viewers, attempt to titillate them into watching ladies’s sports activities, arguing that it raises curiosity thereby making it extra profitable by probably attracting sponsors and TV contracts and even company sponsorships for athletes.”
If motivated, worldwide federations might transfer rapidly to vary uniform rules for ladies. The truth that they select to not, in response to Forsyth, is only for advertising and marketing causes.
A little bit little bit of historical past repeating
Not each Olympic sport is caught within the “18th century”, as Paralympic star Olivia Breen put it, however many have a historical past of controversy on the subject of feminine athletic uniform rules. Swimming, athletics, badminton, boxing, gymnastics and seaside volleyball, for instance, have notably poor monitor information.
Simply earlier than the 2012 London Olympics, the Newbie Worldwide Boxing Affiliation tried to make feminine boxers put on skirts as a substitute of shorts. Their reasoning was that spectators would be capable of discern extra simply between feminine and male boxers, as they couldn’t “inform the distinction” earlier than.
The suggestion sparked outrage and an online petition began by newbie London-based boxer Elizabeth Plank demanded ladies be free to decide on what they put on within the ring. After garnering greater than 57,000 signatures, the choice was amended and feminine boxers have been free to decide on between shorts or a skirt.
That very same yr, the Worldwide Volleyball Federation (FIVB) modified its gown code. Earlier than the modification, ladies gamers have been compelled to put on bikinis or bodysuits throughout video games. However public stress mounted and the FIVB revealed new guidelines, permitting ladies to put on shorts and sleeved tops out of respect for “spiritual and cultural necessities” of some taking part international locations.
In 2011, the Badminton World Federation have been much less forgiving about their uniform necessities. Forward of the London Olympics the next yr, the organisation determined that feminine athletes taking part in at an elite stage should put on dressers or skirts. They defended their choice saying this is able to create a extra “engaging presentation”.
However current sartorial debates are simply the most recent hurdle for feminine athletes, notably on the subject of the Olympic Video games. Girls have been barred from becoming a member of the video games for many years and even subjected to gender testing. And despite the fact that the IOC overtly promotes inclusivity, feminine athletes are nonetheless subjected to extra scrutiny than their male counterparts.
“We’re simply scratching the floor,” Forsyth from Western College says. “If we’re simply speaking about and debating uniforms, think about what we’re going to seek out if we dig a little bit deeper.”