Beach Volleyball in Iran?
How do conservative countries handle scantily clad Olympic athletes?
By Kara Hadge
Posted Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2008, at http://www.slate.com/id/2198221/
Yesterday in Beijing, Roqaya al-Gassra of Bahrain won her heat in the second round of the women's 200-meter dash while wearing long pants, long sleeves, and a head covering, in keeping with her practice of Islam. Many female Olympians wear athletic clothing that does not cover their bodies; are their events broadcast in conservative countries?
Yes, for the most part. Regional and foreign networks are broadcasting the Games, including Al Jazeera, the BBC, and Al Arabiya, as well as local channels. The foreign broadcasters are not altering their content to reflect local customs, but certain countries with legal dress codes for women might be censoring footage on state-operated channels. (Only a small proportion of the Muslim countries where women tend to dress modestly have compulsory dress codes; in Bahrain, for example, women are allowed to wear whatever they want.)
Government-owned television networks in Saudi Arabia and Iran will show women who are not wearing the hijab as long as they are not too scantily clad. In Iran, shorts seem to be OK, but swimsuits and leotards are out. (That means no swimming, gymnastics, or beach volleyball.) Events in which the athletes' bodies are mostly covered—such as horseback riding and judo—are always acceptable. (The networks are also likely to be covering the three events in which Iranian women are competing: rowing, tae kwan do, and archery.) In Saudi Arabia, most people watch Olympics coverage on satellite TV, which is fully legal and carries no government restrictions.