Hijab in sport controversy must end now

Hijab in sport controversy must end now

Many sports brands have started selling hijabs or headscarves. Performance hijabs have become a hot seller for female Muslim athletes. This assumes significance in the current scenario where a female Iranian rock climber, who did not wear a hijab at an international competition in South Korea, has returned home amid controversy.

Since this is an emerging story, the reports are flying by fast. The athlete himself has apologized and claimed that his headscarf slipped during the competition. The international community is concerned about what it may face in Iran.

The climber and headscarf issue is the epitome of great controversy today. Many women are forced to compete wearing the hijab and are not allowed to play sports without covering their heads. So, this means that the avenues for competitions that do not allow the hijab are off limits for some athletes. Headscarves are dangerous in close contact sports, although there are now many sports that allow athletes to compete wearing headscarves.

Still, the scarf is polarizing on the playing field, too. In 2018, an Indian female chess star, a grandmaster, pulled out of a chess competition, the Asian Team Chess Championship, because she would be forced to wear a hijab. He saw the rule as a violation of his individual rights. A few years back, an Indian woman shooter had withdrawn from a meeting citing the same reason. While both of these meetings were in Iran, which is amid widespread protests, it is clear that wearing the hijab on the playground is a matter of debate within the larger issue. Players should not be openly or covertly forced to wear the hijab during practice or in competition.

Most importantly, under no circumstances should female athletes be forced to wear headscarves to compete.



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