Rio 2016: Women’s Volleyball Embraces Different Cultures

Egypt vs Germany Match Bridges Cultures and Celebrates Cultural Diversity

August 15th, 2016
Myron Kanter-Bax, CD News

In their first ever participation in Olympics, the Egyptian women's volleyball team opted to wear long-sleeved outfits with long trousers instead of the two-piece bikini uniform for their game against Germany.

At the second day of beach volleyball at Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro for the 2016 Summer Olympics, a women’s volleyball match between the teams of Germany and Egypt was one of the many games to take place.

Members of the Egyptian women's volleyball team Nada Meawad and Doaa Elghobashy shunned the regular two-piece bikini uniform, opting for long sleeves and long trousers. Elghobashy also covered her hair with a hijab.

This decision went viral and it was covered by all major news media worldwide. This comes as no surprise, as it was a stark contrast to what the sport has been known for since it was added to the Olympic agenda in 1996. Two decades later, this signifies a major change towards a more open and culturally diverse approach.

Although the International Volleyball Federation used to have standards strictly regulating the size of uniforms, its uniform code changed before the London 2012 Olympics. In March 2012, the International Volleyball Federation embraced the diverse cultural and religious beliefs of the sport's international players following a request from African Volleyball Confederation (CAVB) chairman Dr. Amr Elwany from Egypt. It added three more options to its approved uniforms, allowing full sleeves and leggings.

FIVB spokesman Richard Baker has argued that the move by the Federation was made to open up the game culturally. And it seems to have been successful, as 169 different countries were involved in the Continental Cup qualifying process for the 2016 Olympics, compared to just 143 for London.

And in Rio, the first ever Egyptian women's beach volleyball team to make it to the Olympics played in their first international event outside of the African continent where they had won a major title in April.
In the end, medal hopefuls Ludwig and Walkenhorst continued their winning streak by securing a 2-0 victory in Pool D over their Egyptian counterparts, after a match lasting nearly 40 minutes. 


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