Badminton World Federation defends new skirt requirement for women
“It has never been the intention of the BWF to portray women as sexual objects, and nor is that what we are doing,” said Paisan Rangsikitpho, deputy president of the organization.
According to Rangsikitpho, the “aesthetic and stylish presentation” of players is an important factor in the organization's attempt to increase the popularity of the sport. “The clothing regulation is yet another example of how BWF are putting focus on the women's game to raise the profile,” he said of the rule that is to take effect at international events on June 1.
In other words, forcing women to wear skirts to help market the sport isn't sexist at all.
Some players, including world No. 9 Tine Baun of Denmark, aren't buying it.
“Can you ask men to wear a particular dress and play?” Baun told the Times of India. “Each player knows his or her comfort level, and you should not decide what is good for them.”
As for raising the profile of the sport, Baun feels there are better ways of doing that. “It can be made more professional, there should be promotional events, big posters and banners at big tournaments,” she said.
Rangsikitpho stressed that shorts, tights or tracksuit bottoms could still be worn -- as long as they are underneath the mandatory skirt.
“Players can still wear all of the above," he said, "and from the guidelines, it should be clear that these do not push any women to wear clothing they are not comfortable with.”
-- Chuck Schilken
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Photo: Tine Baun. Credit: Manan Vatsyana / AFP/Getty Images