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When the Badminton World Federation (BWF) was looking to raise its profile and glamorize its image last year, it wrote into the official rulebook that women were now required to compete in skirts. BWF announced it has abandoned the new rule, set to go into effect last Friday, amid backlash from critics.
Paisan Rangsikitpho, an American deputy president of the Badminton World Federation, was interviewed by The New York Times before the rule was shelved. He had defended the rule, saying BWF was not using sex to promote the sport. “We just want them to look feminine and have a nice presentation so women will be more popular.”
The new rule, which was developed by the BWF, said women players had to wear skirts or dresses “to ensure attractive presentation.” The rule was quickly slammed for being sexist and outdated. The group denied that the skirt rule disrespected women or discriminated against religious beliefs, but a number of country’s disagreed. Pakistan’s government disagreed, saying the rule contradicted the country’s religious principles. China, Indonesia and India also criticized the rule, as did Malaysia’s ruling party.
Amid international debate, the rule was cancelled. Paisan Rangsikitpho announced the cancellation of the rule over the weekend, stressing, “We have shelved the ban [but] we just want to encourage women and men players to dress properly. We want them to dress nicely, professionally.” Rangsikitpho admitted that the new rule had been abandoned to avoid controversy before the London Olympics, which is less than 60 days away.