Nordic Ministers Launch Crusade Against 'Absurd' Bikini Requirement in Beach Handball
06:30 GMT 04.10.2021 (Updated: 07:01 GMT 04.10.2021)
© AFP 2023 / LOIC VENANCEA mark of a sandy hand is seen on Cuba's Leila Consuelo Martinez Ortega body left by her partnr Lidianny Echevarria Benitez after the women's beach volleyball lucky loser match between Netherlands and Cuba during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Shiokaze Park in Tokyo on July 31, 2021
© AFP 2023 / LOIC VENANCE
According to the current rules in beach handball, ladies must play in a bikini where the size of the bottoms must not exceed ten centimetres long, which earlier this year unleashed a full-blown "Bikinigate". Men, by contrast, can play in a sleeveless shirt and shorts. The Nordic ministers called the differences "outdated" and "obsolete".
In the course of the year, the dress code in beach handball has become a government issue, and now ministers of culture and sports from Nordic nations have penned a petition to the International Handball Federation to remove the bikini requirement for women.
In the petition, the ministers from Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Iceland, and Finland "urged the International Handball Federation and other international sports federations to review uniform rules and to allow athletes to be dressed in a way that suits performance and comfort".
"We emphasise the need for action not only to accommodate current female athletes, but also to support and encourage all athletes regardless of their gender or background to remain in sport", the ministers wrote, highlighting "the double standards that many athletes face when it comes to how men and women should dress in different sports".
In conclusion, the ministers stressed that athletes must be allowed to dress in a manner that is comfortable and that supports performance.
According to beach handball's current rules, ladies must play in a bikini where the size of the bottom part must not exceed ten centimetres long. Men, by contrast, can play in a sleeveless shirt and shorts.
"This must be seen as a completely absurd rule, it is a forced dress [code] that does not fulfill any function for the sport", Swedish Culture Minister Amanda Lind told the newswire TT.
Denmark's Sports Minister Ane Halsboe-Joergensen called the bikini requirement "obsolete" and "belonging to another century".
Norwegian Culture Minister Abid Raja stressed to the newspaper Verdens Gang that sports must be "inclusive" and called the requirement "old-fashioned" and "outdated".
The background to the petition is the so-called "Bikinigate" that marred this summer's European Championship, when team Norway played in shorts in the match for the bronze against Spain and was fined for a breach of rules. Earlier, the Norwegians asked for permission to do so, but were rejected.
"It was quite spontaneous. We just thought 'now we just do it, and then we will see what happens'", Katinka Haltvik of team Norway said then.
Following "Bikinigate", team Norway received a lot of international support and accolades, including from fellow athletes and celebrities such as pop singer Pink, who offered to pay their fines.
Earlier this year, the Norwegian Handball Federation asked its European counterpart (EHF) for a rule change, which was approved. In order for the rule change to be final, it is still required to be rubber-stamped by the International Handball Federation (IHF).