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Some beach volleyballers to wear long sleeves at Olympics

Published:Monday | April 2, 2012 | 12:00 AM

GENEVA (AP):

Most female beach volleyball players will wear their usual bikini outfits at the London Olympics. For those who prefer to cover up, that's OK, too.

Under new rules adopted by the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB), players are free to wear shorts and sleeved tops. The governing body said the move was made out of respect for the cultural and religious beliefs of some of the dozens of countries still in contention to qualify for the games.

"Many of these countries have religious and cultural requirements, so the uniform needed to be more flexible," FIVB spokesman Richard Baker told The Associated Press last Tuesday.

The rule, which will apply to the Olympics, has already been in effect at five Continental Cup qualifying competitions involving 142 nations.

"Winners of the Continental Cups will qualify for the Olympics, so it has to be applied," Baker said.

The FIVB has not specified which countries lobbied to be allowed to cover up in London.

An African qualifying event scheduled May 24-26 in Kigali, Rwanda, includes Algeria, Kenya and the Democratic Republic of Congo among the contenders. Photographs on the FIVB's website of preliminary matches shows female players from those countries covering their midriffs by wearing sleeveless tops, which are the typical attire of indoor volleyball teams.

A Continental Cup qualifier to be played in Asia will include India, Indonesia and Sri Lanka among 12 competing nations.