Qatar women's basketball team leave Asian Games after hijab row
Qatar have pulled out of the women’s basketball competition at the Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea, after they were denied permission to wear the Islamic headscarf, an official with the team said on Thursday.
The Qatari players had been asked to remove the hijab before their group game against Mongolia on Wednesday but refused, leaving the organisers no option but to declare a forfeit.
Under International Basketball Federation rules, Article 4.2.2 dictates players cannot wear “headgear, hair accessories and jewellery”.
With no sign the rule would be relaxed before their next match against Nepal, Qatar decided not to go ahead with their remaining games at the 17th Asiad, which is being run under the slogan: Diversity Shines Here.
“We have decided not to take part in the remainder of the Asian Games women’s basketball competition,” an assistant with Qatar’s National Olympic Committee said.
Competition at the Asian Games is conducted under the regulations of the sports’ international governing bodies, meaning athletes in other sports are free to wear the hijab.
All four bronze medal-winning rowers of Iran’s lightweight women’s quadruple sculls team wore hijabs on Wednesday, while Kuwait’s Najlaa I M Aljerewi and Iran’s Aghaei Hajiagha Soraya wore them in the triathlon and badminton events on Thursday.
Basketball remains one of the exceptions, though Fiba said earlier this month it had held discussions on the issue and was introducing a two-year ‘testing phase’ on what players can wear, though that would only apply at national level.
The Olympic Council of Asia issued a statement on Wednesday saying: “The right of the athletes must be the highest priority.”
Sports federations had a duty to protect athletes and “allow them to exercise their right of freedom of choice with dignity,” the OCA director general, Husain al-Musallam, added in a statement.
From The Guardian