It was the third day of the 18-nation, intercontinental ‘Challenger Beach Volleyball Championship’ being hosted by India for the first time, on Elliot’s beach in Chennai. The Indian women participants were playing in pants and skirts, not bikinis. “They wanted to cover their stomachs for cultural reasons,” pointed out Yaniv Noyman, technical supervisor of the Switzerland-based International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) that has teamed up with the Indian Volleyball Federation to coordinate the tourney.
As per FIVB’s rulebook, the official uniform for women players is a bikini or a one-piece suit. But rules had to be bent to accommodate the Indian ladies.
The local BJP’s women’s wing led by Sujata Rao petitioned the city police commissioner but Martin Sudhakar, the tournament’s organizing secretary, dismissed that as a “political” gimmick. “There is a dress code for playing beach volleyball just as there is a dress code for women swimmers,” he said.
S Decher, FIVB’s referee delegate, said that the crowd behaviour has been “mature”. “There is no difference in audience behaviour between this and any other venue in the world,” he said.
Ms Moran and Ms Giselle from the Israeli team agreed with Decher: “This is a very nice place and so are its people… The crowd is cheering us all the way, no whistling or lewd remarks as yet.” Play on, girls.