Badminton shelves rule requiring women wear skirts

Liu Jin / AFP - Getty Images file

Wang Xin of China returns a shot during the final match at the Uber Cup world badminton team championships on May 26, in shorts.

When the Badminton World Federation 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 in collaboration with Octagon, an international marketing firm, said women players had to wear skirts or dresses "to ensure attractive presentation." The rule was quickly slammed for being sexist and outdated. 

Imogen Bankier, one of the world’s top 20 badminton players along with her partner, Chris Adcock, had criticized the rule before it was obliterated. She told Telegraph Sport, "You can't make demands like that to make women more is ridiculous; tennis certainly doesn't have this problem so why should we have to put up with it?" 

"The point of going into competitions is for us to be champions," said Vita Marissa, Indonesia’s mixed doubles player. "And we have to feel comfortable while playing."

The BWF denied that the skirt rule disrespected women or discriminated against religious beliefs. Pakistan’s government disagreed, saying the rule contradicted the country's religious principles. China, Indonesia and India also criticized the rule, as well as Malaysia's Muslim party. 

Paisan Rangsikitpho announced the cancellation of the rule during the Thomas and Uber Cup in Wuhan, China over the weekend, reports the Telegraph. "We have shelved the ban,” he said. "We just want to encourage women and men players to dress properly. We want them to dress nicely, professionally."

He also admitted that the new rule had been abandoned to avoid controversy before the London Olympics, which is less than 60 days away.

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Discuss this post

I can't stand organizations that make rules and then change them when a few complain. All sports involve some kind of uniform. I don't think football players would complain about wearing all that garb they wear and I don't think basketball players would either. I would enjoy seeing females dressed as females and males dressed as males. Just wear matching under garments to cover everything up - a simple change would have solved the problem. There is just way too many complaints over the least little stupid things these days. And believe me when I do say that these kinds of piddly little things really do not matter in the grand scheme of things so why get all upset over it.....

    Reply#1 - Mon Jun 4, 2012 12:19 PM EDT

    Really? You realize it's society that defined women's attire to be a dress? Why? Why does a woman have to wear a dress/skirt to be defined as a woman? Or to be considered 'professional' why do I have to wear a skirt? As a female engineer, do you think I would be taken seriously on a manufacturing shop floor if I was wearing a dress? I look just as professional wearing a nice pair of khaki's, and I don't have to worry about accidentally flashing the men around me if I have to climb over equipment.

    I'm sure that's what these women are 'complaining' against. They should be able to wear what they are comfortable in, that will allow them to compete to their highest level, without worry of 'flashing' or wearing something they simply aren't comfortable in.

    Let's see men compete in kilts, wearing the 'traditional' undergarments, and see if they complain. After all, kilts would give them more freedom of movement.

    • 19 votes
    #1.1 - Mon Jun 4, 2012 12:37 PM EDT

    i would like to welcome you the 21st century! enjoy yer stay.....

    • 7 votes
    #1.2 - Mon Jun 4, 2012 12:43 PM EDT


    You are confusing the issue in order to make a point. There will be no equipment to climb over. Problem solved.

    • 1 vote
    #1.3 - Mon Jun 4, 2012 1:02 PM EDT

    in 1962 i dared to wear slacks to a college class. it was 30 below zero and i had to take a bus to and from class. that could mean standing in the wind off lake michigan which is the definition of ''life threatening cold''. my professor pulled me aside after class and warned me this attire was not acceptable --- i continued to wear the slacks and soon other women wore them too. senseless rules need to be challenged-dictating to women what they can and can not wear is archaic and sexist.

    • 13 votes
    #1.4 - Mon Jun 4, 2012 1:04 PM EDT

    I don't see the need for them to wear anything at all.

    • 5 votes
    #1.5 - Mon Jun 4, 2012 1:12 PM EDT

    Thanks Granny22. Women like you and your classmates paved the way for the women of my generation. I had a situation that occurred while I was in college, involving a male professor; there was a rumor that he disliked women in science & engineering. He attempted to call me out after class once, and let's just say I made him aware that I was no meek girl that would be walked over.

    • 5 votes
    #1.6 - Mon Jun 4, 2012 2:20 PM EDT

    Really now?Why not stick them into god damn bikinis-or maybe just pasties?These women are athletes-they have competed in shorts for years.If clothing changes are made to ensure fairness among the competitors(like when only some swimmers could use the new tech suits because not all countries had access to them),ensure safety for the players or because the new clothing item improves the ability of the athlete to move about then ok.But just to make them more feminine?STUPID!

    • 6 votes
    #1.7 - Mon Jun 4, 2012 2:31 PM EDT

    Yea! and the guys spandex short shorts with stuffed jock straps. I bet that gets up the excitement. The refs. will just have to be more alert that the right balls are being busted. Your moms thought this fight was over. I hear the Scott's love dresses and no jock straps now that would be exciting. I could see ticket sales increasing. Just imagine the excitement when someone gets knocked out with their own bag. How would you score that one?

    • 1 vote
    #1.8 - Mon Jun 4, 2012 2:33 PM EDT

    first, no bikinis in beach volleyball, and now no skirts for badminton. What do we have to look forward to now? So sad, really.

    • 3 votes
    #1.9 - Mon Jun 4, 2012 2:38 PM EDT

    Granny22 and KyEngineer: I remember similar situations/confrontations at the University of Maryland during the early 1960's, one involving the Dean of Women and several unhappy undegraduate women on a particularly cold - and windy - wintry day. The girls bade the Dean accompany them on a walk across the campus (a typical dorm-to-class stroll of about 1/2 mile), dressed as the Dean would have the young ladies do. The upshot of this was that the Dean saw the folly of her rule and immediately rescinded it. Undergraduate women could then wear slacks/jeans/etc. to class with no fear of official sanction. Insofar as the professional arena, I agree that looking professional, and appropriate, for the situation is what it's all about. In the sports world, it's all about freedom of motion, not sartortial decorum. Shorts are better than skirts. I think they give equal freedopm of motion - with greater modesty, if that's what the rule makers are concerned about. So ... what's the fuss?

    • 2 votes
    #1.10 - Mon Jun 4, 2012 10:03 PM EDT

    Let's see you play sports in a dress and see what you think afterwards, shall we?

    • 13 votes
    Reply#2 - Mon Jun 4, 2012 12:31 PM EDT

    Who cares? Does anyone really watch?

      Reply#3 - Mon Jun 4, 2012 12:52 PM EDT

      IDo you mean, if a sport happens and you don't watch it, did it really happen? Yes.

      • 1 vote
      #3.1 - Mon Jun 4, 2012 3:03 PM EDT

      Its Badminton for God sakes....didn't realize it was an acutal sport......

      • 3 votes
      Reply#4 - Mon Jun 4, 2012 12:59 PM EDT

      I hope u don't think golf is if that's the case.

      • 1 vote
      #4.1 - Tue Jun 5, 2012 2:51 PM EDT

      Badminton is a sport? I thought it was just a drunken picnic game...

      • 4 votes
      Reply#5 - Mon Jun 4, 2012 1:01 PM EDT

      Um, do I have to wear a skirt to be recognized as female? Wearing a uniform is fine; uniforms don't require skirts. Women's basketball, soccer, softball teams, for a few examples, don't require a skirt as part of a uniform and I think the women are identified as women. Even tennis moved away from skirts/dresses a long time ago.

      • 4 votes
      Reply#6 - Mon Jun 4, 2012 1:07 PM EDT

      So with this kind of thinking, an ugly woman badminton player could be disqualified because she wasn't attractive enough? Food for thought.

      How about ugly men? Would this apply to them, too?

      When did badminton become a beauty pageant?

      I have no problem with tasteful attire on either side of the net, but dictating what is worn by either gender is just a bit to control freakish from my point of view.

      • 8 votes
      Reply#7 - Mon Jun 4, 2012 1:10 PM EDT

      Paisan Rangsikitpho sounds like an idiot to me. I am from South East Asia and used to play this sport when I was little. Why should this individual be concerned about the way the "women" look;? instead of how the outfit will help the athletes win the games?

      Skorts would also be great!

      • 2 votes
      Reply#8 - Mon Jun 4, 2012 1:17 PM EDT

      For Pete's sake - will they require lipstick and polished nails as well?

      • 5 votes
      Reply#9 - Mon Jun 4, 2012 1:30 PM EDT

      A woman's purpose it to be attractive for men. That's it.

      • 4 votes
      Reply#10 - Mon Jun 4, 2012 1:33 PM EDT

      No wonder you're concerned with your legos.

      • 5 votes
      #10.1 - Mon Jun 4, 2012 2:50 PM EDT

      Looking at some of those women masks would be more important than skirts...

      • 3 votes
      Reply#11 - Mon Jun 4, 2012 1:47 PM EDT

      now we're down to it...because really, what could possibly be more important than who Rick-546746 would like to look at? Isn't this really the standard we should ALL adopt, immediately?

      • 1 vote
      #11.1 - Mon Jun 4, 2012 2:52 PM EDT

      But women's legs are sexy, whats wrong with admiring them?

      • 1 vote
      Reply#12 - Mon Jun 4, 2012 1:50 PM EDT

      You can admire them when they're done playing and change. See how easy this is?

      • 2 votes
      #12.1 - Mon Jun 4, 2012 2:52 PM EDT

      Why not wear tennis clothing?--It certainly is more attractive than the unfortunate outfit that Wang Xin is wearing in the picture!

      • 3 votes
      Reply#13 - Mon Jun 4, 2012 2:12 PM EDT

      Sorry, put comment in twice???

        Reply#14 - Mon Jun 4, 2012 2:16 PM EDT

        I had a similar situation once where a judge made me go home and put on a dress because he didn't like women in pantsuits. I also had bosses who demanded I wear dresses to the office in the 80s. Its pervy. Why do these men require women to have an opening at the bottom of their crotch in order to see them as feminine? Its a very perverted thing. I'm so glad those days are over and women are gaining more freedom every day. Now if I could just get paid the same amount as a man for the same frigging job.....

          Reply#15 - Tue Jun 5, 2012 8:37 AM EDT
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