LONDON 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 choice."
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)