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Bacolod City, PhilippinesTuesday, May 29, 2012
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Badminton drops
skirts-only rule

Badminton's world body has abandoned plans to force women players to wear skirts, officials said, in the face of fierce opposition which threatened to cause controversy during the Olympics.

The Badminton World Federation sparked uproar last year when it tried to make skirts or dresses mandatory for female players, in an attempt to attract more fans, before postponing the move indefinitely.

But deputy president Paisan Rangsikitpho said the skirts rule -- which was criticised by China, Indonesia and India, and Malaysia's main Muslim party -- had finally been scrapped, two months before the London Games.

"We have shelved the ban (on women wearing shorts)," he said during the Thomas and Uber Cups event in Wuhan, China.

But the BWF is still urging its players to look their best for the cameras as it vies for a greater audience, and has launched a push for men and women competitors to work on their "presentation".

"We just want to encourage women and men players to dress properly. We want them to dress nicely, professionally," Paisan said, as he outlined the BWF's latest strategy to raise the sport's profile.

The BWF also said it hoped for a "collaborative effort with the players and apparel sponsors", meaning that they want more appealing sportswear on offer, and more players wearing it.

Jan Lin, BWF media and communications officer, said the drive to look good was intended to win more TV air-time.

"To get more badminton on TV there are as much expectations on the presentation and charisma of the sport," she said.*AFP

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