This week at the Tokyo Olympics, many people are thinking more about the kind of sports clothing, or uniforms, female athletes wear.
The clothing worn by Olympic gymnasts and by women who played in a beach handball competition in Europe gained attention this week.
In Europe, the Norwegian beach handball team wore close-fitting shorts: a kind of clothing for the lower part of the body. They were protesting having to wear bikini bottoms – or extremely short shorts. The women on the team were fined by the organization that supervises their sport in Europe.
In Tokyo, the German women’s gymnastics team wore clothing that covered their legs to protest the way many young women in the sport are treated by men.
Those stories made people wonder if the women who play beach volleyball like to wear athletic clothing that looks like a swimsuit.
The athletes say they do not mind.
April Ross is a member of the USA women’s beach volleyball team.
She said the sport started on beaches in California, Hawaii and Brazil. When people finished playing, they could go cool off in the ocean, so it made sense to wear swimsuits.
Men who play beach volleyball at the Olympics wear swimsuits along with thin t-shirts without arms known as tank tops.
Since they are playing on sand, most players say they are happy to wear as little clothing as possible. When the sand gets into their clothing, it does not feel good against their skin.
Alix Klineman is Ross’ volleyball teammate. She said: “I totally respect other people wanting to be more covered if that’s what makes them more comfortable.”
The beach volleyball games are played in all kinds of weather, even rain. At the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Misty May-Treanor won the gold medal with her partner Kerri Walsh in a rainstorm.
“This is just another reason why we play in bathing suits,” May-Treanor said at the time.
The volleyball players do not have to wear swimsuits, they just have to wear the same thing. They can wear long sleeves or long, tight pants, known as leggings if it is cold. They can also wear head coverings for religious reasons.
The FIVB is the organization that supervises beach volleyball at the Olympics. It says there are several choices.
The organization said: “Beach volleyball welcomes all, and these uniform regulations ensure that our sport is culturally and religiously inclusive.”
Doaa Elghobashy is a member of the Egyptian beach volleyball team. She keeps her body covered with loose clothing and wears a hijab, a Muslim head covering.
“It doesn’t keep me away from the things I love to do,” she said. “And beach volleyball is one of them.”
I’m Dan Friedell.
Jimmy Golen wrote this story for the Associated Press. Dan Friedell adapted it for Learning English. Mario Ritter, Jr. was the editor.
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Words in This Story
athlete –n. a person who is trained in or good at sports, games, or exercises that require physical skill and strength
uniform –n. a special kind of clothing worn by all members of a group, organization or team
bikini –n. a piece of clothing in two parts worn by women for swimming and lying in the sun that does not cover much of the body
gymnast –n. a person who perform exercises on a flat area or with equipment as part of a sports competition that is judged
swimsuit –n. clothing worn for swimming
comfortable –adj. not having any physical unpleasant feelings; experiencing physical ease or comfort
bathing suits – n. another word for a swimsuit
regulation – n. an official rule or law that says how something should be done