Asian Games: Qatar hijab row prompts basketball pledge

Basketball`s world body said it was looking at its controversial headgear ban on Friday after Qatar`s women`s team quit the Asian Games in a row over their Muslim hijabs.

Asian Games: Qatar hijab row prompts basketball pledge

Incheon: Basketball`s world body said it was looking at its controversial headgear ban on Friday after Qatar`s women`s team quit the Asian Games in a row over their Muslim hijabs.

The International Basketball Federation (FIBA) insisted its ban has no "religious connotation" but said it had started a "revision process" after several complaints.

As the Qatari team arrived home, the row continued to reverberate in Incheon where Chinese swimmer Sun Yang again eclipsed South Korean home hero Park Tae-Hwan in the pool.

The outspoken Olympic champion`s big win in the 1,500 metres came after he called the anthem of arch-rivals Japan "ugly".

Elsewhere, Chinese superheavyweight Zhou Lulu hoisted the largest single weight ever by a woman and Pakistan won their first gold medal by regaining their women`s cricket title.

FIBA came in for strong criticism after Qatar`s women were refused permission to play in hijabs, a decision one player described as an "insult" and failure to respect the Gulf state`s dominant Muslim religion.

The body said the ban on headgear more than 5 centimetres (2 inches) wide was not discriminatory but it could start "tests" on easing the restrictions in international competition next year.

The rule has already been relaxed at national level after a number of complaints.

In July and August, Indian Sikh players were forced to remove their headwear at FIBA events.

"International tests may be initiated as of summer 2015," said a FIBA statement which insisted that its regulations apply "without any religious connotation."

"While certain groups have interpreted the provisions of the official basketball rules as a ban against the participation of players of certain faiths in basketball competitions, the uniform regulations are of a purely sporting nature," it added.

Qatar, formally listed as "disqualified" from the Asian Games after forfeiting their first two games, were the only Muslim country to enter a women`s team.

China`s Sun wrote more headlines on the last night in the pool when he won the 1,500 metres freestyle in 14min 49.75 sec, 19 seconds outside his world record but comfortably in front of Japan`s Kohei Yamamoto.

Sun has made waves by saying, "The Japanese national anthem sounds ugly", but the Japanese team reacted calmly to his provocative comment.

Japan`s head coach Takayuki Umehara told AFP: "It is a very delicate issue and we didn`t hear what he said directly so it`s difficult to comment, but what is fact is that there is no agitation or signs of the swimmers being upset."

Sun`s win highlighted another golden night for China as they snatched four wins in the pool and shot up to 91 golds on the medals table, 60 ahead of second-placed South Korea.

Performance of the day went to Chinese lifter Zhou, who lifted a clean and jerk of 192kg -- the most ever by a woman -- to take superheavyweight gold.

Despite the huge victory, Zhou said she was not satisfied with her performance which also included 142kg in the snatch.

"It was only so-so," she told AFP. "I`m disappointed that I didn`t perform well in the snatch."

Olympic superheavyweight men`s champion Behdad Salimi could not keep up. The Iranian fell short of beating his own weightlifting world record as he had promised.

Salimi failed at a new snatch mark of 215kg, 1kg above his 2011 record, with his last lift of on his way to a crushing victory in the men`s over 105kg category. 

Pakistan`s women`s cricketers earned their country`s first gold medal when they beat Bangladesh by four runs in a rain-shortened Twenty20 final.

Air conditioning was at the centre of controversy in the badminton but organisers rejected Chinese claims it was deliberately manipulated to help hosts South Korea in the men`s team final.

The Olympic-style tournament`s athletics opens on Saturday with the highlight expected to be Qatar`s Mutaz Essa Barshim trying to break the 21-year-old world high jump record.

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