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AIBA opens door for Muslim women boxers with new rule changes

IMO News Service

More Muslim women boxers will now be able to enter into the rings with new change in rules by world boxing governing body AIBA. Female boxers will now be able to wear new uniform complying with religious requirements.

AIBA released a statement after concluding its executive committee meeting in Istanbul recently saying that Muslim women can now take part in boxing donning their Islamic headscarf ‘Hijab’.

“Boxers will also be allowed to wear their respective national colours on their shorts and vests as long as it complies with the official guidelines,” the statement said.

Sports-Women Boxers1Muslim women have so far refused to participate in the sport worldwide citing religious compulsions.

Earlier, AIBA asked male boxers to participate in 2016 Olympics without headgear, and said that it will do away with the headgear for women and youth boxers in 2017. The AIBA’s decision wasn’t ratified by the executive committee.

Muslim women boxers from countries such as Syria, Morocco and Iran who wanted to participate in competitions had to abandon their plans had to move to other countries.

AIBA in its statement said, “the new “hijabs and full body form-fitting uniforms” have been designed to “not compromise the competition and therefore the health of the boxers”. It will be more of a cloth connected to the T-shirt and won’t hamper the movement of Muslim women players.

AIBA has however not provided any relief to bearded boxers. The global boxing body doesn’t allow male boxers with moustaches and beards to compete. This rule has enraged Sikh competitors, who continue to oppose it.

AIBA has said that its rule changes shows it commitment to “gender equality and religious tolerance”.

AIBA’s recent reform push is being seen as an attempt to regain the trust of International Olympic Committee (IOC), which was considering to stop formal planning for men’s and women’s boxing tournaments at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Boxing will now join sports such as football, basketball and fencing, which presently allow women athletes to compete wearing hijab in Olympics and international level.

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