Jocks and Dykes

The Women’s beach volleyball final is about to happen at Horse Guards Parade in London .  It will be an all-American affair, Brazil having being defeated in the semi-final.  One of the Brazilian players, Juliana Silva, said afterwards:

I have no words for this, I am just very sad. I am very disappointed about this match, but this is Beach Volleyball, you win some and you lose some.

Which is pretty much what you expect from any sport, really. It is perhaps bizarre that beach volleyball is an Olympic sport.  But it is.  So I decided to take a moment to see if I see if it is really true – not just urban myth – that the rules require the players to wear precious little.

Illustration from the Official Beach Volleyball Rules

The FIVB’s rules state:

5.1.1 A player’s equipment consists of shorts or a bathing suit. A jersey or “tank-top” is optional except when specified in Tournament Regulations. Players may wear a hat.

5.1.2 For FIVB World Competitions players of a given team must wear uniforms of the same color and style according to tournament regulations.

For the Athens Olympics, Tournament Regulation 24.2 provided that:

The official women’s uniform for the Olympic Beach Volleyball tournament consists of:

– a top and briefs or

– a one piece uniforms

– eventual accessories

Players from the same team must wear identical uniforms (style, fabric and color).

And at Regulation 24.4:

24.4 Women’s Uniforms

• Style (see diagram)

The top must fit closely to the body and the design must be with deep cutaway armholes on the back, upper chest and stomach (2-piece), respecting the space for the required for the manufacturer logo, player number, country flag and country code, and the place for the player’s name.

The briefs should be in accordance with the enclosed diagram, be a close fit and be cut on an upward angle towards the top of the leg. The side width must be maximum 7 cm.

The one piece uniform must closely fit and the design must be with open back and upper chest, respecting the space for the required inscriptions to be made.

• Fabric

The top and briefs or the one piece uniform must be made of elastic material, Lycra or a combination of Lycra/cotton, or other similar quality synthetic material.

Note the repeated reference to the open “upper chest”.  Or, as the French would say, décolletage. And for any American readers, I should explain that the maximum size of the bikini sides – 7 cm – is about 2 3/4 inches, which is about the diameter of a small peach. It seems that few if any of the girls then went for the one piece option; apparently it trapped the sand in a rather uncomfortable way.

But for London, the rules were changed. The girls were allowed to wear more clothes, making due allowance for the London weather as well as for Muslim sensibilities (although no quite allowing full burqas). Some of the players (including Team GB) thought it sufficiently hot to wear the traditional bikinis, some thought it too cold.

Team GB – hot

Team USA – cold


So the skimpy bikini requirement thing was true, now myth.

All a bit silly. But, I suspect, for many of those who crowded into Horse Guards Parade – jocks and dykes alike – great fun.  And they might have thought it even more fun if the final were between, say, Brazil and Argentina?




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