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Olympics: Gender equality, uniform choice

July 27, 2012 at 2:34 PM   |   Comments

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LONDON, July 27 (UPI) -- Female athletes at the London Olympics have the right to choose skirts or shorts at the first Games in which both genders will compete in all events.

Initial attempts to force female boxers and badminton players into skirts didn't go over well with the ladies, who will now be given their choice of uniform, The Washington Post reported Friday.

The Amateur International Boxing Association proposed the female skirt mandate to help TV viewers identify the separate genders, but the athletes said they believe there are plenty of other assets that set them apart.

"I really didn't understand that," boxer Claressa Shields, 17, of Flint, Mich., told the Post. "It was to help separate the men from the women. But we got different names! Women got breasts! We got butts! Can't you tell which one is who?"

"This is a pugilistic sport, a combative sport. And you want to put sex into it? For what reason?" asked Gloria Peek, 62, a member of the U.S. boxing team's coaching staff. "The skirt equates to sex; it equates to nothing else. How are you going to take that and put it into a gladiator sport? And what does that have to do with it?"

The AIBA decided to let the women choose between shorts and skirts, ending the controversy.

Meanwhile, the women's beach volleyball competition -- much followed by those who appreciate the female body as much as the sport for the postage-stamp-sized bikinis worn during play -- could be tamed by London's notoriously inclement weather. The Post said women will have the option to slip on "more modest shorts and sleeved tops" if the skies turn cold and dark.

The vast majority of spectators likely will be hoping for some summer sun this fortnight.

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