In June, a German public pool found itself at the center of a conflict over the burqini, a full-body swimsuit worn by Muslim women who prefer to cover their entire bodies when they take a dip.
Authorities in charge of the pool in the town of Neutraubling considered it a health hazard for swimmers to wear the full-body covering, but many saw their ban on the suits as an attack on Muslims who would not feel comfortable swimming in more revealing outfits.
“Why the burqini as a full-body suit would be necessary to wear during a women’s swim day is for me incomprehensible,” Mayor Heinz Kiechle said at the time. “This also contradicts the fundamental ideas of integration and mutual understanding, which is always being discussed in many towns.”
This weekend, when Germany and Egypt faced off in Olympic beach volleyball in Rio, Egyptian athletes showed up with their bodies fully covered and Germans competed in bikinis. Although Germany took home the win, the Egyptian players who challenged Germany in the match proved covered hair and full-body suits aren’t an impediment to their athleticism.
Nada Meawad wore long pants and long sleeves that were first approved as an alternative to swimsuits ahead of the London Olympics in 2012. Her partner, Doaa Elghobashy, wore the same outfit plus a hijab to cover her hair.
“I have worn the hijab for 10 years,” she said after losing to Germany. “It doesn’t keep me away from the things I love to do, and beach volleyball is one of them.”
It was the first time in history that Egypt sent a women’s beach volleyball team to the international games. Below, Foreign Policy has embedded photos from the historic match: