Bikini rule changed in beach handball after player protest

BASEL, Switzerland (AP) — Bikini-style uniforms will no longer be mandated for female beach handball players following protests by players and European lawmakers.

The new wording by the sport’s governing body follows a campaign started by the Norwegian national team in July and now allows women to wear “short tight pants” instead of bikinis.

The Norwegian federation was fined because players wore “improper clothing” at the European Championship in July. They had worn shorts to protest the bikini rule.

Team handball’s rules ahead of the Tokyo Olympics seemed out of line with an IOC directive to curb overly sexualized images of female athletes.

There is still a gender divide in the updated International Handball Federation equipment rules.

Female players are told to wear pants “with a close fit” while men’s shorts can be “not too baggy.”

The Switzerland-based IHF updated the rules in a document on its website dated Oct. 3. Days earlier, the sports ministers from Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Iceland and Finland urged the IHF and other international sports to let athletes “be dressed in a way that suits performance and comfort.”

Pop singer Pink had supported the Norwegians and offered to pay the 1,500 euro ($1,700) fine, saying she was “very proud” of the team for challenging the rule.

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