UN body questions French move to bar its athletes from wearing hijab at Paris 2024

FILE PHOTO: Rugby Union - Rugby World Cup Tournament Opening Press Conference - Roland Garros, Paris, France - September 4, 2023 Minister for Sport and the Olympic and Paralympic Games of France, Amelie Oudea-Castera during the press conference REUTERS/Sarah Meyssonnier/File Photo

GENEVA (Reuters) - A United Nations body has criticized France's ban on its athletes wearing the hijab at next year's summer Olympics.

Asked about the decision to ban French athletes from wearing the hijab at the Paris event, a spokesperson for the U.N. human rights office said: "no one should impose on a woman what she needs to wear, or not wear."

"According to international human right standards, restrictions of expressions of religions or beliefs such as attire choices are only acceptable under really specific circumstances that address legitimate concerns for public safety, public order or public health or morals in a necessary and proportionate fashion," said Marta Hurtado, spokesperson for the office.

The comments come days after French Sports Minister Amélie Oudéa-Castéra said French athletes would be barred from wearing a hijab during the Paris Games to respect principles of secularism.

Paris will host the Summer Olympics from July 26 to Aug. 11 next year.

(Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; Editing by Mark Potter)

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