Qatar and the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) hit out at the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) rule which bans all headwear on safety grounds.
Qatar and the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) hit out at the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) rule which bans all headwear on safety grounds. Qatar Out AFP photo / Al-Watan Doha / Karim Jaafar

Qatar withdraws from games over hijab ban

QATAR'S women's basketball team has withdrawn from the Asian Games after they were banned from wearing their hijabs on court.

The team first forfeited their game against Mongolia after they were refused permission to wear the Islamic headscarf during play, and on Thursday the team pulled out of the Games completely ahead of their match against Nepal.

The players claim to have been told that they would be able to wear hijabs during the competition, held in Incheon in South Korea.

But world basketball regulations outline headgear and hair accessories among the items not allowed on the basketball court.

Confusion around the rules for the Asian Games could have arisen from the recent relaxation of guidelines outlined by the international governing body for basketball, Fiba, aimed at making the game more accessible.

"We were told that we would be able to participate in matches by wearing a hijab," Amal Mohamed A Mohamed, one of the Qatari players, said, adding that the team had travelled to the games based on this assurance.

Wearing a hijab is not banned from all sports at the Games; the Iranian lightweight women's quadruple sculls team, who wore a bronze medal on Wednesday, all wore the headscarf during their race.

On Wednesday the Olympic Council of Asia issued the statement: "The right of the athletes must be the highest priority".



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