Beach handball players may compete in shorts

For some female athletes, bikini style uniforms are ideal. Many beach volleyball players, for example, find them a good way to cool off on the hot sand; In addition, the less clothing you wear, the less sand can get stuck in it. Track and field athletes often prefer bikini briefs simply because that’s what they’re used to.

But if you personally think that bikini competition isn’t ideal, you shouldn’t have to – a seemingly obvious principle that hasn’t been reflected in the International Handball Federation’s (IHF ). Historically, female beach handball players were required to wear sports bras and “bikini bottoms”, while men’s teams could wear “not too loose” shorts less than four inches above the kneecap. Over the summer, the Norwegian women’s beach handball team protested the warrant by playing in shorts, an offense for which they were fined.

The incident has drawn international attention to the issue and prompted Australian activist Talitha Stone, who lives in Norway, to start a petition calling on the IHF to update its uniform requirements. A few months and more than 61,000 signatures later, not to mention a letter signed by five European sports ministers and sent to the IHF, the organization nodded. As The Daily Beast reports, the rulebook will now allow female beach handball players to compete in “tight, cropped pants.” [PDF].

That might not be quite the gender neutrality that some people were hoping for, however. Like The Guardian points out, the requirements for men’s shorts have not changed; they don’t need to wear anything “skinny” or “slim fit”. But for handball players who prefer not to play in bikini bottoms, this is definitely a step in the right direction.

[h/t The Daily Beast]