Chennai, Jul 18: Chennai is hosting India's first World Beach Volley Ball tournament. The event had its share of controversy when the Indian women's team refused to play wearing bikinis.
The dress code has now been relaxed for them so that they can play.
Kanaka Mahalakshmi, a 23-year-old, has represented India in junior volleyball but she would rather not play if she is required to wear a bikini, which is the dress code for international beach volleyball tournaments.
Mahalakshmi says, "We want to give them a good fight in the game, not in the dress code."
The Indian team, which was about to withdraw from the tournament, has now been persuaded to stay on. The rules have been relaxed. The team will now play in a sleeveless t-shirt and a short trouser.
A.J. Martin, director of the FiVB Chennai Beach Volley Ball Championship, said, "The International Volleyball Association has a rule that allows us to change the dress code respecting the religious, cultural and ethical sentiments of countries."
The international players, however, are sticking to the dress code. They are hoping that the attention at the tournament will be on their skills rather than their attire.
Zoe Chater, a French spiker, says, "Everything is possible in sports to respect culture of different countries. We don't mean to offend anyone. We are here to play the sport. So are others."
Beach volleyball's popularity the world over is attributed in some measure to the sex appeal of the sport but the bikini-only dress code hasn't been popular even in the Western world with many women arguing that they should be allowed to wear either tights or shorts.