LONDON, March 28 Female beach volleyball players
have been given the option of wearing long-sleeved tops and
shorts instead of bikinis at the London Olympics.
"Some countries for religious and cultural reasons required
more flexibility," International Volleyball Federation (FIVB)
spokesman Richard Baker said on Wednesday.
"This has now been implemented for all FIVB tournaments...
the decision just gives them (the athletes) that greater
Headgear is also allowed to cover a player's hair.
The news may come as a shock to those in the crowd for whom
the main attraction of the high-energy sport lies in watching
bikini-clad athletes strut their stuff in the sandpit to
thumping rock music.
The cover-up is unlikely to be widely adopted, however,
unless there are major surprises in qualifying or London's
summer weather turns unusually chilly.
Women players already had the option of wearing full
bodysuits on the world tour and many did so at an event in The
Hague last year.
Most of the qualifying slots for London have still to be
filled but countries in with a chance and where cultural and
religious beliefs are likely to weigh on clothing choices
include Morocco, Algeria and Egypt.
Baker said the initial request for shorts and long-sleeved
shirts had come from the African federation.
The beach volleyball at the London Games will be held at
Horseguards Parade, near Buckingham Palace and the Prime
Minister's residence at Downing Street, in July and August.
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by John O'Brien)