Indonesian visually impaired judoka Miftahul Jannah was not allowed to compete in the Asian Para Games on Monday, after she refused to take off her hijab, a head cover which is prohibited from being worn during competition according to the International Judo Federation (IJF).
Article 4 number 4 of the IJF Refereeing Rules states that the head of the judoka shall not be covered except for bandaging of a medical nature.
President of the Indonesian National Paralympic Committee (NPC) Senny Marbun said the incident occurred because of the NPC’s negligence.
IJF’s rules had long been established, but the judo coach appointed by the NPC was unaware of the rule because his English was poor, Senny said during a press conference on Monday.
He said the head cover was prohibited because of safety concerns.
“On behalf of the NPC I apologize for this. This is really embarrassing, and I hope it will not occur again in the future,” Senny said.
Meanwhile, the head of Deputy 4 of INAPGOC, Mulyana said in the past, taekwondoin and karateka were also not allowed to wear hijabs during competitions.
However, the federations of both sports later changed the rules to accommodate requests from countries that had athletes who wore hijabs, he said.
The permitted hijabs also had to meet specifications suited to the sports, he added.
Mulyana added that he hoped the IJF could review the rules ahead of the 2020 Paralympics.