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International Weightlifting Federation changes uniform rules to allow hijab

Source : Islam Today
Kuala Lumpur : 01 Jul 2011

The International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) has modified its policy on competitor apparel to allow modest Islamic attire.

In a statement released today in Malaysia announcing the change, IWF President Dr. Tamas Ajan said:

"Weightlifting is an Olympic Sport open for all athletes to participate without discrimination on the basis of race, colour, religion, sex, age, or national origin in accordance with the principles of the Olympic Charter and values. This rule modification has been considered in the spirit of fairness, equality and inclusion."

The IWF policy change, which now allows a full-body unitard under the compulsory weightlifting attire, came following intervention by CAIR in the case of a Muslim weightlifter in Georgia who wishes to compete while covering her hair, arms and legs.

Formerly, the rules required arms and legs to be bare so judges could see when elbows and knees were "locked," therefore enabling them to determine if a lift was successful. Most competitors wear a form-fitting body suit with short sleeves and short pants. Now Muslim compeditors are allowed to wear hijab and a full-body unitard under the standard uniform.

A major point of discussion at the IWF meeting in Malaysia was to determine whether a unitard would would still allow judges to be able to see whether the knees and elbows were locked. The IWF determined that it would.

Last week, CAIR offered the United States Olympic Committee draft language for a policy change on Islamic attire for consideration by the IWF during its ongoing meeting in Malaysia.

The United States Olympic Committee agreed to ask the IWF's technical committee to review a policy preventing the Muslim athlete, 35-year-old Kulsoom Abdullah, from competing in the USA Weightlifting Senior Nationals to be held this July in Council Bluffs, Iowa.

"We welcome this important decision in support of greater inclusion in athletic competition and urge the representatives of other international bodies to take similar steps," said CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper. "We thank the United States Olympic Committee for helping to empower Muslim women athletes and for taking a stand in support of the American tradition of religious diversity."


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