Since beach volleyball’s introduction to the Olympics in 1996, female athletes have been required to wear a bikini or a full body suit for cold weather. However, the London 2012 Olympics will allow women to wear less revealing clothes like shirts and shorts.

The sport is currently dominated by the western world (United States, Brazil, and Europe) and the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) wants to make it more inclusive by accommodating countries with more modest sensibilites. “Many of these countries have religious and cultural requirements, so the uniform needed to be more flexible,” FIVB spokesman Richard Baker told The Associated Press. The new dress code, which is already in effect for qualifying competitions, permits “shorts of a maximum length of three centimetres (1.18 inches) above the knee, and sleeved or sleeveless tops.”

Baker assures (male) fans that there is no bikini ban. “We are not trying to steer away from a particular image, or trying to steer away from the bikinis, we are just trying to expand that choice to incorporate more nations,” said Baker.

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