May 4 (Reuters) - Basketball players will be allowed to wear headgear for religious reasons after world governing body FIBA on Thursday approved a new rule to come into effect from October 1.
“The new rule comes as a result of the fact that traditional dress codes in some countries, which called for the head and/or entire body being covered, were incompatible with FIBA’s previous headgear rule,” FIBA said in a statement.
Qatar’s women’s team withdrew from the 2014 Asian Games in South Korea after being denied permission to wear the hijab on court.
The decision, which overturns a 20-year ban on religious head coverings that was originally imposed for safety reasons, was ratified by Swiss-based FIBA’s Mid-Term Congress in Hong Kong.
FIBA began a two-year revision and testing period in September 2014, granting exceptions at national level. It’s central board approved a modification to the rule after receiving a report in January.
The Mid-Term Congress singled out, as an historical moment, a test game in Iran on April 13 that featured women wearing hijabs and “marked the first time men witnessed a women’s sporting event in person.”
FIBA said the new rule, which would also allow turbans and yarmulkes, would minimise the risk of injury while ensuring uniform was of a consistent colour.
The headgear must be black or white, or of the same dominant colour as that of the uniform, and the same colour for all players on a team.
It must not cover any part of the player’s face entirely or partially, can have no opening or closing elements around the face and neck or pose a danger to any player.
Other sports, including soccer, already allow players to wear headgear during matches. (Reporting by Alan Baldwin; Editing by John O‘Brien)