Dashing the expectations of millions of male viewers around the world, participants in Women’s Olympic Beach Volleyball are no longer required to wear bikinis while competing.
The International Volleyball Federation announced new rules allowing female competitors to wear shorts and sleeved tops, out of respect for the cultural beliefs of participating countries.
"Many of these countries have religious and cultural requirements, so the uniform needed to be more flexible," International Volleyball Federation spokesman Richard Baker told AP. To see the actual guidelines, click here.
Not to worry, bikinis-lovers. You have not seen the last of the bikinis. And in fact, some players don't want to cover up: U.S. champ Kerri Walsh told USA Today, "I think it's part of the alluring part of our sport, which is women in bikinis, but on the flip side of that, we need to be wearing bikinis. You don't want to be wearing baggy clothes and be lost in your clothes."
Meanwhile, British volleyball star Denise Johns told the Sunday Times: "The people who own the sport [the Fédération Internationale de Volleyball] want it to be sexy. I used to play in shorts and a T-shirt and was reluctant to change. But if it gets volleyball attention, so be it."
That said, the Australian Sports Commission, part of the Australian government, published a fact sheet on "sexploitation" in sports, stating that Women’s beach volleyball has introduced uniforms intentionally to focus attention on the athletes’ bodies rather than for any technological, practical or performance-enhancing reasons. But if Walsh insists that she'll get "lost" in anything other than a skintight two-piece, who are we to argue?