Muslim women to wear headscarf at taekwondo worlds

LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — The World Taekwondo Federation hopes its decision to allow Muslim women to wear a headscarf in competition will help the sport promote gender equality at the world championships.

The governing body changed its rules in January to overturn a 2007 decision that banned female competitors wearing the traditional hijab under protective headgear.

“This measure means that taekwondo is one of the few sports that treats women and men equally in the Muslim world,” said Dae Won Moon, chairman of the WTF’s technical committee, in a statement Wednesday. “We believe that our respect for others’ cultures and beliefs will allow taekwondo to enhance its status as an Olympic sport.”

The federation expects women from 140 countries including Afghanistan, Iran and the United Arab Emirates to compete at the Oct. 14-18 worlds in Copenhagen.

It banned the hijab days before the 2007 event in Beijing after being asked for guidance by the Canadian federation, after two Muslim girls were banned from a competition in Quebec. The WTF said then it did not recognize any religion and did not allow anything to be worn under headgear for safety reasons.

It then allowed Muslim women taking part at the Beijing Olympics to wear a headscarf, including Iran’s Sara Khosh Jamal who reached the quarterfinals of the under 108-pound category.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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