INCHEON, South Korea (Reuters) – Women’s basketball teams at future Asian Games could be allowed to wear hijabs thanks to the stand taken by Qatar’s players at the Incheon Asiad, the head of the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) said on Saturday.
Qatar’s women had been asked to remove their head coverings before their opening game against Mongolia last week, but refused to abide by the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) rules banning “headgear, hair accessories and jewellery”.
The players opted to forfeit their matches and flew home early from the Games, which are being run under the slogan: ‘Diversity Shines Here’.
Basketball is the only sport at the Games which enforces such a rule and OCA President Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah said it went against Olympic ideals of fairness and equality.
“I am upset about the hijab,” Sheikh Ahmad told reporters. “The hijab is related to culture, not religion. It has been approved in all sports on the Olympic programme, only basketball (has not).”
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 hijabs.