Paralympian Told Shorts ‘Too Short’; Handball Team Fined For Rejecting Bikini Bottoms

Too short? Or not short enough? The incidents highlight the confusing and often sexist clothing demands faced by female athletes.

A British Paralympic athlete was told her track shorts were “too short and inappropriate” while members of the Norwegian women’s national beach handball team were fined for refusing to wear bikini bottoms at a European championship match.

Paralympic sprinter and long jumper Olivia Breen, 24, said she was left “speechless” after a female official criticized her outfit at the English Championships on Sunday.

“I have been wearing the same style sprint briefs for many years and they are specifically designed for competing in. I will hopefully be wearing them in Tokyo. It made me question whether a male competitor would be similarly criticized,” Breen, who has cerebral palsy, wrote on Twitter.

“I recognize that there needs to be regulations and guidelines in relation to competition kit but women should not be made to feel self-conscious about what they are wearing when competing but should feel comfortable and at ease,” Breen added.

England Athletics is investigating, a spokesperson told The Guardian. “The wellbeing of all participants in athletics is of the utmost importance and everyone should feel comfortable to compete and participate in the sport,” the spokesperson said.

The European Handball Federation, meanwhile, on Monday fined Norway’s women’s beach handball team 1,500 Euros (around $1,780) after its players wore shorts instead of bikini bottoms during their Beach Handball EURO 2021 match over the weekend. The team was defeated by Spain in a third-place playoff.

“The Disciplinary Commission at the Beach Handball Euro 2021 has dealt with a case of improper clothing,” the federation said in a statement on its website. “In the bronze medal game against Spain on Sunday the team of Norway played with shorts that are not according to the Athlete Uniform Regulations defined in the IHF Beach Handball Rules of the Game.”

Team members described the bikini bottoms as uncomfortable and degrading.

According to the International Handball Federation, “female athletes must wear bikini bottoms … with a close fit and cut on an upward angle toward the top of the leg. The side width must be of a maximum of 10 centimeters.”

Male athletes, however, “must wear shorts” that “if not too baggy, can be longer but must remain 10 centimeters above the kneecap.”

Norway’s Handball Federation backed the team in an Instagram post.

“We are very proud of these girls who are at the European Championships in beach handball,” read the statement, per The Independent. “They raised their voice and told us that enough is enough.

“We are the Norwegian Handball Federation and we stand behind you and support you,” it added. “We will continue to fight to change the international regulations for attire, so that players can play in the clothing they are comfortable with.”

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