“We’re not uncomfortable in our bikinis,” is what a member of the US women Olympic beach volleyball team had said expressing no intention to cover up in the last Olympics despite new rules which allowed them to. And they continued with their skimpy crop-tops and bikini bottoms.
Time and again, Olympic officials of several nations have allowed a change to the dress code in sport only to accommodate the religious concerns of those countries who have reservations about women wearing clothing with more skin show.
Sports uniforms are not supposed to become barriers but on certain instances, these could actually make a real, tangible difference in the performance of the sportsman/woman. Then, the question arises as to why some women participating in Olympic sports need to wear a different uniform from their western counterparts.
It has been a common sight at the Rio Olympics that women athletes from some countries are participating with head covers, scarves and hijabs, thus factoring in their faith.
Muslim, Jewish, and Pentecostal women adhere to their faiths of modest dress wear clothing with sleeves, high necklines, and longer hems.
Regardless of the setting or activity, these requirements must be met when they’re in public spaces, including the Olympics.
For casual sports, they are free to wear a modest look but it becomes all the more mandatory to sport their “look of faith” when they compete on the world stage. For this, these “women of faith” often have to get special permission to wear a modified uniform. Sometimes, it isn’t even granted.
There are reports about women athletes of other countries expressing as to whether they should be more offended by volleyball players covered in a ‘burkini’ or exposed in bikini. Whatever it is, it doesn’t matter what culture you belong to, women’s bodies and the way those are dressed up is still seen as public property. So, why this anomaly?
The reason lies in the outlook and temperament of those countries which disregard women as unequals in society and are more accustomed, or rather, prefer to see them covered up throughout their lifetime.
Faith and sport have several things in common. The perseverance, determination, dedication and the constant urge to self-discover are all worth celebrating. But definitely, not at the cost of a uniform dress code for this world stage!