The Norwegian women's beach handball team was fined over the weekend for opting to wear shorts instead of the required bikini bottoms during the sport's Euro 2021 bronze medal game.
In protest of the regulated bikini bottoms required of female athletes, the women's team chose instead to make a statement on during their bronze medal match Sunday and play in mid-thigh length elastic shorts, according to NBC News.
The European Handball Federation fined the team €1,500 ($1,700) for the team's "improper clothing" during their match against Spain. Male beach handball players are required to wear a tank top and shorts no longer than four inches above the knee, while women sport midriff bearing tops and bikini bottoms with "a close fit and cut on an upward angle toward the top of the leg" and no more than four inches in side length, according to the International Handball Federation.
"It's not [appropriate clothing for] the activity when they are playing in the sand," said Norwegian Handball Federation President Kåre Geir Lio to NBC News.
The women's team trains and competes in "what they want, like the boys" at home in Norway, but is subject to the International Handball Federation's clothing rules when playing abroad, he said.
The team was threatened with a fine or disqualification after petitioning to wear shorts at the start of the tournament, according to Lio.
"It was very spontaneous. We thought, 'Let's just do it now, and then see what happens,'" team member Katinka Haltvik told Norwegian broadcaster NRK.
"I got a message 10 minutes before the match that they would wear the clothing that they were satisfied with. And they got our full support," Lio said.
Lio added that Norway will officially submit a motion to change the dress rules in an extraordinary congress of the IHF in November. Norway has, since 2006, campaigned for shorts to be considered for women. Haltvik hopes the move will draw more people into playing the sport. "It shouldn't be the case that people don't want to take part because of the outfit," she told NRK back in April.
The team received support on Twitter from numerous users, including Norway’s Minister of Culture.
In a similar fight to wear what an athlete feel comfortable competing in, Paralympian Olivia Breen was criticized at the England Championships Sunday for wearing a sprint uniform that was "inappropriate" and "too revealing," according to ESPN. Team Great Britain's double world-champion is set to compete in the T38 long jump at the upcoming Tokyo Olympics.
Breen, who has Cerebral Palsy, was criticized for wearing a competition brief style that she has worn her entire nine-year career. "I just finished my last long jump competition before [Paralympic] selection," Breen told ESPN. "This official came up to me and said to me: 'Can I speak to you?' And she just said, 'I think your briefs are too revealing. I think you should consider buying some shorts.'
"I was just ... I am very expressive, and I didn't know what to say. So my response was: 'Are you joking?' Breen continued.
"I felt disgusted. I was just taken by surprise and gobsmacked," she said. "This is so wrong. We're not living in the 18th century. Life has moved on. As an athlete, personally, I have never experienced that before."