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Norway team at the 2018 Women's Beach Handball World Cup. Photo: Ilnar Tukhbatov/Epsilon/Getty Images

Women handball players will no longer be required to compete in bikini bottoms, according to updated rules by the International Handball Federation.

Driving the news: The new rules, published on Oct. 3, follow the controversy over the bikini bottom requirement. Norway's women's beach handball team was fined in July for wearing shorts in competition — a penalty that sparked backlash over the rules and broader debate about sexism and double standards in sports.

The big picture: Previously, women were required to wear bikini bottoms "with a close fit and cut on an upward angle toward the top of the leg." The bottoms could be no longer than 4 inches on the sides.

  • Male players are allowed to wear shorts as long as 4 inches above the knee that aren't "too baggy."
  • Under the updated rules, which will take effect Jan. 1, female "athletes must wear short tight pants with a close fit.” The maximum length is mid-thigh, according to an illustration describing the acceptable uniforms in the updated rulebook. Long pants may be acceptable under certain weather conditions.
  • The IHF did not provide a reason for the change in uniform requirements, but the organization's president, Hassan Moustafa, indicated in August that a change in the rules could be imminent following pressure from teams from Europe and American Samoa, per the New York Times.

Go Deeper: Female Olympians push back against double standard in uniforms

Go deeper

Movie theaters go out of style

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Vaccination rates are going up, people are going out to restaurants again — although the new COVID variant may get in the way — but they still aren't rushing back to the movies.

By the numbers: Some 49% of pre-pandemic moviegoers are no longer hitting theaters, according to a study from the film research company The Quorum, as reported by the New York Times.

2 hours ago - Health

Vaccine mandates lose steam in the U.S. while Europe doubles down

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

European countries are doubling down on pressure campaigns to get people vaccinated just as Republicans continue to wage war — often successfully — against vaccine mandates in the U.S.

Why it matters: The starkly different approaches create a sharp contrast between the regions' approaches to vaccination, even as the Omicron variant rapidly spreads around the world.

3 hours ago - World

Two years of COVID-19

Expand chart
Data: Our World in Data; Chart: Axios Visuals

Two years ago Wednesday, the first case of a mysterious new respiratory disease was discovered in Wuhan, China. Now, the Omicron variant has deepened concerns about just how much longer the coronavirus pandemic will last.

The big picture: More than 5 million people have died since that first case. Most people on earth have lived through some form of lockdown. 54% of the global population has had at least one vaccination, though the shots have been distributed unevenly.