Qatar’s women’s basketball team has withdrawn
from the Asian Games competition after they were denied permission to wear the hijab
during matches. The team was due to play Mongolia on Wednesday
in South Korea, when they were asked to remove them. The team then refused, saying the move was
discouraging Muslim women who want to play in the Islamic headscarves. Games organisers said they had no alternative
other than to declare a forfeit, because the players broke the Basketball Federation rule
which talks about uniforms and what players can wear. Despite this, athletes wearing hijabs took
part in the opening ceremony of the Games last week, and have competed in a variety
of sports including rowing, badminton and a triathlon. An assistant with Qatar’s National Olympic
Committee said the team had already left South Korea, where 9,500 athletes from 45 countries
had gathered to compete at the Games under the slogan, “Diversity Shines Here”. In a statement, the International Basketball
Federation said that “the uniform regulations are of a purely sporting nature.”