INCHEON, South Korea: Qatar’s women’s basketball team stood defiant over a ban on their Muslim headscarves on Thursday at the Asian Games.
The Qatari women forfeited a second game in Incheon because under International Basketball Federation (FIBA) rules, they are not allowed to play in hijabs or other headgear.
“We are not going to the stadium today and for the other matches, as we will not be allowed to play because of the international basketball federation,” a Qatar Olympic Committee official told Agence France-Presse.
Mounting controversies stole attention from world records in archery and shooting and an improved performance by South Korea’s Park Tae-Hwan in the 100 meters freestyle heats.
Qatar’s women were to play Nepal on Thursday, a day after they walked on court to face Mongolia but quickly departed when told they could not play.
FIBA’s ban on headwear in international competition is motivated by safety but it has raised hackles at Asia’s Olympics, which includes several Muslim nations.
“It’s an insult to us, they don’t respect religion,” Qatari player Rafaa Morgan Mohammed told Agence France-Presse.
The Olympic Council of Asia (OCA), which runs the quadrennial Asian Games, criticized FIBA. Other sports such as football allow religious headwear.
“Every athlete has the right to represent their country’s flag without discrimination,” OCA director general Husain Al-Musallam said late on Wednesday.