March 27, 2012

New bikini rules for London Olympics (8 PICS)

Women beach volleyball players won't have to wear bikinis at the 2012 London Olympics. A new rule announced Tuesday says that participants in this summer's beach volleyball competition can wear shorts and sleeved tops.

Athletes in the event have exclusively worn bikinis since the sport was introduced at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. Competitors could also wear bodysuits in cold-weather events.

The change was made to reflect cultural conventions of various participating countries.

"Shorts of a maximum length of [1.18 inches] above the knee, and sleeved or sleeveless tops," will now be allowed, according to the new IOC ruling.

Since the Beijing Olympics, most beach volleyball competitions have changed rules to allow for more modest uniforms. It's an attempt to broaden the diversity in the sport, which tends to be dominated by athletes from Europe, Brazil and the United States. Allowing shorts and shirts can encourage participation from countries with more modest cultural beliefs.

As the AP reports, the field at London's beach volleyball competition won't be dictated by world rankings, as in Olympics past. Qualifying tournaments on various continents will fill the 24-team draw.

Beach Volleyball: The Facts
  • The sport was first played in the 1920s in Santa Monica, California and moved across to Europe a decade later
  • Early matches were played with teams of at least six a side, but eventually progressed to the 2 v 2 format we have today
  • The first competitive tournament was held in Los Angeles in 1940. The prize was a case of Pepsi
  • The first World Championship took place in 1976, with Greg Lee and Jim Menges taking the title and splitting the £2,500 first prize
  • The London 2012 beach volleyball tournament will be held at the Horse Guards Parade, near Trafalgar Square
  • Volleyball and beach volleyball are similar sports, but have different rules, as the video below explains

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