- French athletes will be banned from wearing hijabs at the 2024 Paris Olympics
- The country’s sports minister said France sought ‘strict secularism’ at the Games
- Wearing a veil is also prohibited for footballers who play in the country
France has banned its athletes from wearing hijabs at next year’s Olympic Games, with the nation sticking to a ‘a regime of strict secularism’ in Paris.
The country’s sports minister announced the news during an interview with French political programme Dimanche en Politique, as per Inside the Games.
Explaining the decision of the French government, Amelie Oudea-Castera said that – having deliberated with prime minister Elisabeth Borne – officials were seeking ‘absolute neutrality’ at the Games in the country’s capital.
‘We have, thanks to a recent decision of the Council of State, expressed very clearly with the Prime Minister our attachment to a regime of strict secularism,’ Oudéa-Castéra said.
‘This means the prohibition of any form of proselytism, the absolute neutrality of public service.
France has banned its athletes from wearing hijabs at the 2024 Olympics in Paris
French sports minister Amelie Oudea-Castera said the country was seeking ‘strict secularism’, Pictured right: Ibtihaj Muhammad, a fencer who became the first Muslim American woman to wear a veil while competing for the US team at the Rio Olympics
‘The representatives of our delegations in our French teams will not wear the veil.
‘The International Olympic Committee, which governs these rules of participation, is following a logic which consists of understanding the wearing of the veil not as a religious factor but as a cultural factor,’ Oudéa-Castéra added.
‘It is based on the provisions of International Federations which are not all the same in this area. There will be heterogeneity between sports.’
Wearing hijabs at the Olympics is not uncommon. At the Rio Games in 2016, fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad became the first Muslim American woman to wear a veil while competing for the US team at the Rio Olympics.
France had already banned footballers competing in the country from wearing veils.
Women are currently permitted to wear a hijab in FIFA competitions – after a long-running ban that saw the veil banned from 2007 until 2014.
FIFA dropped their ban on hijabs in 2014 and Nouhaila Benzina became the first player to wear a headscarf at a World Cup during the women’s tournament this year
FIFA cited health and safety concerns, particularly the fear of possible choking, and regulations banned equipment ‘dangerous to themselves or another player’.
The Under-17 Women’s World Cup, held in Jordan in 2016, marked the first time Muslim players were allowed to wear headscarves after the ban was lifted.
But with France still banning the hijab in France, footballers were not allowed to wear them at the 2019 Women’s World Cup, which was was hosted in the country.
Morocco star Nouhaila Benzina then became the first footballer to wear the headscarf at a World Cup during the the 2023 tournament this year.