Passport

Relaxed Uniform Regulations Let Egyptian Volleyball Players Compete Against Bikini-Clad Germans

Egypt sent their first-ever women's beach volleyball team to the Olympics this year, and they were allowed to compete fully clad.

Egypt's Nada Meawad (L) and Egypt's Doaa Elghobashy react during the women's beach volleyball qualifying match between Germany and Egypt at the Beach Volley Arena in Rio de Janeiro on August 7, 2016, for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. / AFP / Yasuyoshi Chiba        (Photo credit should read YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP/Getty Images)
Egypt's Nada Meawad (L) and Egypt's Doaa Elghobashy react during the women's beach volleyball qualifying match between Germany and Egypt at the Beach Volley Arena in Rio de Janeiro on August 7, 2016, for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. / AFP / Yasuyoshi Chiba (Photo credit should read YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP/Getty Images)

In June, a German public pool found itself at the center of a conflict over the burqini, a full-body swimsuit worn by Muslim women who prefer to cover their entire bodies when they take a dip.

Authorities in charge of the pool in the town of Neutraubling considered it a health hazard for swimmers to wear the full-body covering, but many saw their ban on the suits as an attack on Muslims who would not feel comfortable swimming in more revealing outfits.

“Why the burqini as a full-body suit would be necessary to wear during a women’s swim day is for me incomprehensible,” Mayor Heinz Kiechle said at the time. “This also contradicts the fundamental ideas of integration and mutual understanding, which is always being discussed in many towns.”

In June, a German public pool found itself at the center of a conflict over the burqini, a full-body swimsuit worn by Muslim women who prefer to cover their entire bodies when they take a dip.

Authorities in charge of the pool in the town of Neutraubling considered it a health hazard for swimmers to wear the full-body covering, but many saw their ban on the suits as an attack on Muslims who would not feel comfortable swimming in more revealing outfits.

“Why the burqini as a full-body suit would be necessary to wear during a women’s swim day is for me incomprehensible,” Mayor Heinz Kiechle said at the time. “This also contradicts the fundamental ideas of integration and mutual understanding, which is always being discussed in many towns.”

This weekend, when Germany and Egypt faced off in Olympic beach volleyball in Rio, Egyptian athletes showed up with their bodies fully covered and Germans competed in bikinis. Although Germany took home the win, the Egyptian players who challenged Germany in the match proved covered hair and full-body suits aren’t an impediment to their athleticism.

Nada Meawad wore long pants and long sleeves that were first approved as an alternative to swimsuits ahead of the London Olympics in 2012. Her partner, Doaa Elghobashy, wore the same outfit plus a hijab to cover her hair.

“I have worn the hijab for 10 years,” she said after losing to Germany. “It doesn’t keep me away from the things I love to do, and beach volleyball is one of them.”

It was the first time in history that Egypt sent a women’s beach volleyball team to the international games. Below, Foreign Policy has embedded photos from the historic match:

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 07: Doaa Elghobashy of Egypt reacts during the Women's Beach Volleyball preliminary round Pool D match against Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst of Germany on Day 2 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Beach Volleyball Arena on August 7, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Germany's Laura Ludwig (R) vies with Egypt's Nada Meawad during the women's beach volleyball qualifying match between Germany and Egypt at the Beach Volley Arena in Rio de Janeiro on August 7, 2016, for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. / AFP / Yasuyoshi Chiba (Photo credit should read YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP/Getty Images)

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 07: Doaa Elghobashy of Egypt hugs teammate Nada Meawad during the Women's Beach Volleyball preliminary round Pool D match against Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst of Germany on Day 2 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Beach Volleyball Arena on August 7, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Image Credit: YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP/Getty Images and SHAUN BOTTERILL/Getty Images

More from Foreign Policy

The Taliban delegation leaves the hotel after meeting with representatives of Russia, China, the United States, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Qatar in Moscow on March 19.

China and the Taliban Begin Their Romance

Beijing has its eyes set on using Afghanistan as a strategic corridor once U.S. troops are out of the way.

An Afghan security member pours gasoline over a pile of seized drugs and alcoholic drinks

The Taliban Are Breaking Bad

Meth is even more profitable than heroin—and is turbocharging the insurgency.

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya addresses the U.N. Security Council from her office in Vilnius, Lithuania, on Sept. 4, 2020.

Belarus’s Unlikely New Leader

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya didn’t set out to challenge a brutal dictatorship.

Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid

What the Taliban Takeover Means for India

Kabul’s swift collapse leaves New Delhi with significant security concerns.