(Japan Today) –No, women are not required to wear bikinis to play beach volleyball at the Olympics.
Yes, TV cameras tend to get stuck on their glutes when they put their hands behind their backs to relay signals to each other. And no, that’s not a problem for the players who believe that those who see the sport will remain fans.
“I’ve always felt that when someone is attracted to them, however you put them in beach volleyball, they fall in love with the sport,” said American April Ross, a three-time Olympian. “So hopefully that will happen.”
Beach volleyball has been one of the most popular sports at the Summer Games since it was added to the programme in 1996. It has fast-paced action, a festive atmosphere, and a number of telegenic American stars who paraded to the podium for six of the 12 possible gold medals.
But there’s also no doubt that some TV attunements are there to ogle the women as they jump and dive across the sand in their bikinis. In 2012, London tabloids circulated photos of the beach volleyball venue without a set or peak in sight; it was also the focus of then-mayor and current British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who wrote a guest newspaper column during the Olympics taking place in his city.
Attentiveness to the bikinis in Tokyo grew after a viral social media post misidentified a team protesting a beach handball dress code as beach volleyball. Beach handball, which is not an Olympic sport, requires women to wear bikinis, and the European federation has fined Norwegians for wearing shorts in protest at a match 5,500 miles away in Bulgaria.
In Tokyo this week, the German gymnastics team wore full-leg unitards that reached their ankles, eschewing the traditional bikini cut that ends high at the hip. The athletes said they were trying to fight the sexualization of young women and girls in their sport, which is trying to recover from a decades-long sex abuse scandal.
The Tokyo Games head of broadcasting said this week that their feeds will not focus on sexualized images of female athletes, but instead will focus on “sports appeal, not sex appeal.”
But beach volleyball players embrace their gear—and for them, gear is exactly what the bikinis are—and prefer it to more conservative attire in almost all circumstances. What are the rules?
The FIVB has issued 22 pages of uniform guidelines for Tokyo, covering everything from fabric and colour to names and numbers and how big manufacturers’ logos can be. Teammates must also match.
An appendix contains drawings of possible styles for women, including short sleeves and tank tops, long sleeves for modesty and warmth, long pants and shorts, and a one-piece bathing suit or bikini. The men wear tank tops and board shorts, which can be worn over long-sleeved shirts and tights in cold weather.
There are also options for teams with religious dress codes.
“The FIVB’s unified beach volleyball guidelines allow for a variety of options,” the international federation said. “Beach volleyball is for everyone, and these rules make sure that our sport is culturally and religiously inclusive.”
there also beach volleyball for men?
If you want to watch men’s volleyball at the Olympics, you’ll have to go to the same place as women’s volleyball. This is because there has been a mirror-image men’s tournament every time the sport has been at the Olympics since the Summer Games in Atlanta.
Although the men wear tank tops and swimming trunks during the Olympics and during the international tour, they may play shirtless during the domestic AVP tour. Many choose to do this.
So why BIKINIS?
“Beach volleyball was a sport that was developed in Hawaii, Southern California, and on the beaches of Rio,” Ross said. “And you play, and it’s hot, and then you go and jump in the water.”
One-piece swimsuits don’t work because the sand gets in and chafes; in fact, the players say the less material that can hold sand, the better. Ross and her partner, Alix Klineman, who helped design their own uniforms, also said it’s important the straps don’t restrict her movement or breathing.
“For us, this feels the most comfortable,” Klineman said. In really hot weather, you don’t wear clothes anymore; sand that gets stuck in some places is no fun. But I completely respect other people who want to be more covered up if that’s what makes them more comfortable. ”
Beach volleyball matches will also continue in all weather conditions, including rain from the leading edge of Typhoon Nepartak that dampened the grounds of Skiokaze Park this week. In Beijing, the Olympic championships were played in a downpour.
“This,” said American Misty May-Treanor, who was soaking wet but with a gold medal to show for it, “is just another reason we play in swimwear.”
Do players ever wear anything else?
Some teams wore leggings and long sleeves under their uniforms on the cooler evenings of 2012, much to the dismay of London tabloids, but even then, most opted for the traditional board shorts and bikinis.
Four years later, after the FIVB expanded Olympic qualifiers in an effort to spread the sport to new countries, Egyptians wore long sleeves, a loose-fitting top, long pants, and hijabs to cover their heads.
“I’ve been wearing a hijab for ten years,” said Doaa Elghobashy, a member of her country’s first beach volleyball team to compete in the Olympics.
“It doesn’t keep me away from the things I like to do,” she said. “And beach volleyball is one of them.”