Volleyball’s world governing body said “misunderstandings” in Iran were to blame for female spectators being denied entry to a Beach Volleyball World Tour event.
Allowing women to attend the five-day competition at Kish Island had been a condition of world body FIVB for the Iranian volleyball federation to host the men’s event. Female fans are traditionally barred from attending male-only sports matches in Iran.
FIVB spokesman Richard Baker said: “There were some misunderstandings with regard to security.” He said women could then watch games from a café overlooking the main court on Tuesday.
“There have been misunderstandings throughout the day, and we have had to seek clarification,” Mr Baker said, adding that the Iranian federation “has the best intentions but there are cultural issues”.
Minky Worden, director of global initiatives for Human Rights Watch, said the decision by Iranian authorities was “far more serious than a slight misunderstanding’.
“Brave Iranian women who took the FIVB at its word were turned away at the turnstiles this week,” Ms Worden said. “That is a black eye for the sport of volleyball, and a setback for women’s rights in Iran.
“This sorry episode highlights the shortcomings of the FIVB’s strategy with the Iranian government.”