In a direct violation of international rules governing these sporting events, the Iranian government barred women from entry to the Beach Volleyball World Tour event on Kish Island. The FIVB had expressly required Iran to guarantee that women would be allowed to enter and watch the matches. However, the Iranians barred them anyway at the five-day competition.
Iran routinely bars women from male-only sports. What is most disconcerting is the feeble response From the FIVB, which preferred to call the barring of women as a “misunderstanding.” A misunderstanding? This was a five day event and a clear requirement was the entry of women.
FIVB spokesman Richard Baker maintained this line despite the fact that objections were made and the Iranians did not allow women to enter. Baker added that the Iranian federation “has the best intentions but there are cultural issues.” Well, yes, those “cultural” issues were the very reason that Iran was required in advance to promise to allow women to enter. The treatment of the issue was a disgrace. It was a highly questionable decision to hold the competition in a country that discriminates against women under medieval religious principles. However, to then dismiss the violation as a “misunderstanding” did a disservice to both women and the sport as a whole.