Sat, Sep 21, 2013 - Page 19 News List

Bikini tensions hit run-up to Islamic Games opening

AFP, PALEMBANG, Indonesia

The flags of countries participating in the Islamic Solidarity Games decorate a venue at the Palembang sports complex yesterday in Palembang, Indonesia.

Photo: AFP

The Islamic Solidarity Games open in Indonesia this weekend following a chaotic run-up, with controversy over female athletes competing in sports bikinis adding to the turmoil.

Some nations demanded that all women cover up for the beach volleyball, track and field, and swimming events, but organizers have refused to axe the two-piece sporting outfits.

“If some countries do not want to use the bikini, that’s fine, but if other countries want to, we will allow that,” senior organizing committee member Djoko Pramono said. “We agreed to apply international rules, including the dress code.”

Thousands of athletes from 44 nations with Muslim populations will come together for the games, but only those ruled by Islamic governments opposed the bikini, Pramono said, adding they complained collectively.

He did not mention the countries which complained by name. This year is the second time the games have been held, the first in Saudi Arabia, where not only were there no bikinis, but men and women competed on separate days and men were barred from watching women swim.

Some countries also asked the organizers to again run male and female events on separate days.

Pramono said he did not know which teams had decided to wear the bikinis. Female players from Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei have worn them at previous international competitions.

The event is set to officially open tomorrow and run until Oct. 1, after months of delays and two changes of venue, in Palembang city on Sumatra island.

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