International Basketball Federation (FIBA) approved on Thursday a new rule that allows players to wear headgear for religious reasons, coming to effect from October 1.
The rule that was ratified by Swiss-based FIBA's Mid-Term Congress in Hong Kong overturned a 20-year ban on religious head coverings.
It comes after a fierce criticism that the rule undermined diversity by disallowing religious coverings like the Muslim hijab.
According to FIBA’s statement, "the new rule comes as a result of the fact that traditional dress codes in some countries, which called for the head and/or entire body being covered, were incompatible with FIBA's previous headgear rule,"
FIBA said the new rule, which would also allow turbans and yarmulkes, would minimise the risk of injury while ensuring uniform was of a consistent colour.
The headgear must be black or white, or of the same dominant colour as that of the uniform, and the same colour for all players on a team.
It must not cover any part of the player's face entirely or partially, can have no opening or closing elements around the face and neck or pose a danger to any player.
Testing period in 2014
— Masoud Soltanifar (@msoltanifar_ir) April 13, 2017
FIBA began a two-year revision and testing period in September 2014, granting exceptions at a national level.
Its central board approved a modification to the rule after receiving a report in January.
As a historical moment, the Mid-Term Congress singled out a test game in Iran on April 13 that featured women wearing hijabs and "marked the first time men witnessed a women's sporting event in person."
But Qatar's women's team withdrew from the 2014 Asian Games in South Korea after being denied permission to wear the hijab on court.
In the same year, FIBA also ran into trouble when Sikh players from India were forced to remove their turbans at the Asia Cup in China and had to tie their hair with elastic bands.
Other sports, including football, already allow players to wear headgear during matches.