Since the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, plenty of people have voiced their opinions about the uniforms for women’s beach volleyball athletes. But not many thought to ask the players themselves about the matter.
During the Games, many fans spoke out about the fact that most of the women wore bikinis that exposed a lot of skin. The argument was that the bikini uniforms were a sexist approach to women’s Olympic games.
“Beach volleyball in the Olympics – women have to wear bikinis while men can wear shorts,” one viewer wrote on Twitter.
“Totally sexist rules,” another wrote.
However, the requirement of bikinis is just a misconception. U.S. beach volleyball player Kelly Claes reported that athletes can wear whatever uniform they choose during the games.
“At the Olympics, we’re allowed to wear long pants, turtlenecks — we can wear whatever we want,” Claes said. “We all choose to wear bikinis.”
According to the athletes themselves, a bikini is the optimal uniform for beach volleyball.
“It’s sensible, useful attire for being in the sun and the sand,” Canadian beach volleyball athlete Brandie Wilkerson shared. “And there are lots of sports — no one is asking why you wear a bathing suit if you’re in the swimming pool.”
While some may see the bikinis as a way to make the sport about looks, many women’s volleyball players argue otherwise. Unlike one-piece swimsuits or shirts, bikinis don’t collect nearly as much sand as more conservative uniforms. Along with increased mobility, the bikini is often the first pick for women that have to dive in the sand for the ball.
Beach Volleyball Athletes Say Uniforms Are an ‘Amazing Way to Express Yourself’
Likewise, the women don’t agree with the comparison towards men’s uniforms. Men’s beach volleyball athletes can wear swim trunks with or without tank tops.
“No one is like, ‘Why are the men wearing shirts?’ ” said U.S. volleyball player Sarah Sponcil.
Not everyone wears a bikini during competitions, either. In fact, U.S. beach volleyball athlete Crissy Jones prefers to wear a one-piece while on the sand.
Whether a bikini, swimsuit or sweatpants, Canadian athlete Wilkerson shared that the different uniform styles are “an amazing way to express yourself.”
While beach volleyball athletes have no restrictions regarding what they can wear on the sand, handball athletes are another story. Previously during the European Beach Handball Championships in July, a Norwegian team received a hefty fine for not wearing the mandatory bikini bottoms during the game. This caused an uproar on social media, including a furious response from the pop star, Pink, who offered to pay for the fine. In this situation, beach volleyball athletes can understand the frustration with uniforms.
“I think when you start restricting the options, it’s a problem,” Wilkerson stated. “But if someone chooses to wear something very small or very big, there shouldn’t even be a conversation.”