Security guards have prevented women from watching the Beach Volleyball World Championship on Iran’s Kish Island for a third consecutive day with the international governing body claiming “misunderstandings.”
The ban has continued despite initial assurances by Iranian authorities that women would be allowed to attend the events.
The International Volleyball Federation (FIBV) only agreed with Iran’s request to host the event after receiving those assurances that female fans would not be banned.
But it has done nothing to ensure that women, including the relatives and friends of competitors, could watch the events from the stands, even though Iran reneged on its assurances from the first day.
According to eyewitnesses, women have been banned every day of the championship. On Tuesday, some women watched the games from the roof of a nearby cafe after being turned away from the arena by security guards.
Initially, officials said the ban was only a “misunderstanding” by guards who were acting on their own “personal taste” against the Iranian Volleyball Federation’s wish to comply with international regulations.
FIVB spokesman Richard Baker appeared to be making excuses for Iran on Wednesday.
“There have been misunderstandings throughout the day, and we have had to seek clarification,” he told The Associated Press, adding that the Iranian federation “has the best intentions but there are cultural issues.”
Baker noted that some women were able to watch the event from the rooftop of a café.
Wednesday was the last day for Iranian women to see their national team compete. Iran was eliminated from the competition on February 17 after being defeated by Poland. The games will end on Friday, February 19, 2016.
Volleyball is the only men’s sport Iranian women have occasionally been allowed to watch from arena stands in Iran. Even though an order to ban women from watching all men’s matches has been strictly enforced in the past three years, women’s groups have been working hard to reverse it.
The head of Iran’s Volleyball Federation, Mohammad Reza Davarzani, had suggested before the start of the championship that men and women, including relatives and guests of team members, would be allowed to watch the events from the stands. But all women, including reporters, have been unable to attend.