COPENHAGEN, Denmark -- The five Nordic countries urged the International Handball Federation "to review uniform rules in accordance with gender equality" after the Norway team was punished for wearing shorts instead of the mandated bikini uniform.
Norway's women were fined by European handball authorities for "improper clothing" after wearing shorts in the European beach bronze medal match in Bulgaria in July in protest at the bikini-style rule. Men are allowed to wear T-shirts and shorts while women have to wear midriff-baring tops and bikini bottoms.
"The claim is obsolete, and one would think it belonged to another century," Denmark sports minister Ane Halsboe-Joergensen said on Thursday. "I also have a hard time seeing what sporting reasons should be behind female athletes having to play in a bikini."
In the open letter, the five sports ministers from Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Iceland and Finland "urge the International Handball Federation and other international sports federations to review uniform rules and to allow athletes to be dressed in a way that suits performance and comfort."
"We emphasize the need for action not only to accommodate current female athletes, but also to support and encourage all athletes regardless of their gender or background to remain in sport."
Halsboe-Joergensen noted there was no requirement for female beach handball players to wear a bikini "when they would rather play in shorts" and there was no similar requirement for men.
U.S. pop singer Pink backed the Norwegian team and offered to pay the 1,500 euros ($1,700) fine, saying she was "very proud" of the team for protesting against the rule. Pink tweeted that "the European handball federation SHOULD BE FINED FOR SEXISM. Good on ya, ladies."