German beach volleyball stars boycott Qatar over bikini issue

HAMBURG, GERMANY - AUGUST 16: Karla Borger (R) of Germany talks to team mate Julia Sude of Germany on day three of the comdirect Beach Tour 2020 on August 16, 2020 in Hamburg, Germany. (Photo by Martin Rose/Bongarts/Getty Images)
Karla Borger (R) and Julia Sude will not particiapte in the upcoming tournament in Doha. (Photo by Martin Rose/Bongarts/Getty Images)

German beach volleyball stars Karla Borger and Julia Sude are refusing to participate in a beach volleyball tournament in Qatar next month over the tournament’s policy that restricts competitors from wearing bikinis.

“It is not about wearing little, it’s about not being able to do our job in our work clothes," Sude told Sports and Business Mag. "We don’t want to go along with that.”

“This is really the only country and the only tournament where a government tells us how to do our job — we are criticizing that,” Borger told radio station Deutschlandfunk on Sunday.

The upcoming FIVB World Tour event in March marks the first time Doha, Qatar’s capital city, has hosted a women’s event. The tournament has hosted seven different men’s World Tour competitions in the past.

The Qatar volleyball association said in response it was “committed to ensuring that all athletes are made to feel welcome and comfortable at next month's event.”

The organization’s statement also stated they "would like to make clear that we are not making any demand on what athletes should wear at the event.”

Female players have been advised to wear shirts and long trousers “out of respect for the culture and traditions of the host country,” according to the FIVB.

Borger cited the need to wear bikinis for this particular tournament is due to the warm climate of the host city. Temperatures in Doha during the tournament, which will take place between Mar. 8-12, are projected to reach 27 degrees Celsius, according to AccuWeather.

The country has made exceptions in the past, loosening restrictions for female track and field athletes competing at the World Athletics Championships in Doha in 2019 and allowing female beach volleyball players to compete in bikinis at the ANOC World Beach Games in 2019.

In additional comments made to radio station Deutschlandfunk, Borger questioned the merits of hosting a tournament in Qatar.

“We are asking whether it's necessary to hold a tournament there at all,” she said.

The country has been under intense scrutiny for exploitative labour practices and alleged human rights abuses in the lead-up to next year's FIFA World Cup, with the Guardian reporting Tuesday that 6,500 migrant workers have died in Qatar since it won the right to host the World Cup in December 2010.

The event is a qualifier for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games with 400 ranking points awarded to the winners. Borger and Sude have already qualified for the Olympics.

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