German beach volleyball players bikinis, Karla Borger and Julia Sude

Karla Borger, Julia Sude, beach volleyball stars, boycotting over a bikini ban

Karla Borger and Julia Sude, Germany's beach volleyball stars, have said they would boycott a tournament in Qatar next month because it was "the only country" where players were barred from wearing bikinis on court.

Instead of the normal bikinis, women players were asked to wear shirts and long pants, a rule that the FIVB world beach volleyball federation says is "out of respect for the host country's culture and traditions."

Borger told the radio station Deutschlandfunk on Sunday, "We are there to do our job, but we are prevented from wearing our work clothes."

"This is really the only nation and the only tournament where we are critical of a government telling us how to do our job."

On June 29, 2019, Karla Borger and Julia Sude
On June 29, 2019, Karla Borger and Julia Sude

The Qatar volleyball association responded to the news by explaining that they were "committed to ensuring that at next month's event all athletes are made to feel welcome and comfortable." They said that all athletes were free to compete in their international uniforms. "We want to make it clear that we do not demand what athletes should wear at the event," a statement said.

Qatar is hosting the upcoming FIVB World Tour event, but strict on-court clothing regulations have led to silver medallist Borger and her doubles partner Sude shunning the event at the World Championships.

The tournament in March is the first time Doha has hosted a women's World Tour event, although for seven years the town has been a regular fixture on the men's tour.

Borger and Sude told Spiegel magazine during the weekend in a decision backed by the German volleyball federation DVV that they "would not go along with" the rules enforced by the Qatari authorities.

Borger said they would typically be happy to "adapt to any country," but that the extreme heat in Doha meant the need for bikinis.

Her teammate Sude pointed out that Qatar had previously made exceptions at the World Athletics Championships in Doha in 2019 for female track and field athletes participating.

The nation has also allowed female beach volleyball players to compete at the ANOC World Beach Games in 2019 in bikinis.

Temperatures in the Gulf State can reach as high as 85 degrees in March, but not as hot as the scorching summer months.

On June 30, 2019, Julia Sude (left) and Karla Borger
On June 30, 2019, Julia Sude (left) and Karla Borger

On Sunday, speaking to Deutschlandfunk, Borger questioned whether Qatar was an acceptable host country.

"We are asking if it is at all necessary to hold a tournament there," she said.

In recent decades, Qatar has hosted a growing number of major sporting events, but it is a controversial venue due to its human rights record, lack of sporting history and brutally hot weather.

During the road races at last year's World Athletics Championships, held in Doha, heat and humidity were major problems.

Ahead of next year's football World Cup, unfair labour practices and alleged human rights violations in Qatar have been the target of intense scrutiny.