Qatar women's basketball team withdraw from Asian Games
Members of Nepal's women's basketball team (front row) pose for a picture in the stands with their supporters after their Qatari opponents failed to show for their scheduled game at the 17th Asian Games in IncheonJason ReedReuters

The women's basketball team of Qatar has withdrawn from the ongoing Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea, after the organisers did not allow the participants to play the game with their hijabs on.

In their match against Mongolia, the players were told to remove their hijabs, or headscarves, but they refused, and officials of the game had to declare a forfeit.

Fiba, the global governing body of the game, said: "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."

According to Article 4.2.2 of the International Basketball Federation, "headgear, hair accessories and jewellery" cannot be worn during matches.

"We have to take this stand. We are here to push the international association that all Muslim teams are ready to compete in any competition. We knew about the hijab ban, but we have to be here. We have to show everyone that we are ready to play, but the International Association is not ready," one of the players told Reuters.

There are, however, other games which allow hijabs and a few Iranians are participating with their headscarves on.

Neither the Olympic Council of Asia nor the organisers of the Asian Games have officially commented on the matter.