The head of Iran’s Athletics Federation was forced to resign after a number of women without a mandatory head covering joined a marathon race organized by the authorities in the central city of Shiraz.
The state news agency IRNA lauded the May 5 marathon as a "cultural and sports" event that included disabled athletes, children with Down syndrome, foreign athletes and tourists.
IRNA and Tasnim news agencies published a picture showing teenage girls with hijab crossing the finish line, where a military music band played for the runners.
But after news and images emerged of the participation of women without the required headscarf, Zia Hashemi, the head of the Athletics Federation, was forced to step down, a source at the Ministry of Sports and Youth told IranWire.
The Shiraz Marathon was organized by the athletics committee of Fars province.
Ruhullah Najmi, the head of the Fars athletics team, told ISNA news agency that some individuals who did not abide by the Islamic Republic’s dress codes managed to participate in the race despite the presence of 400 police and military personnel.
Maryam Kazmipour, one of the most conservative sports deputy ministers, stated that all necessary arrangements had been made before the race, "including separate hours and routes for men and women."
"However, the norm-breaking behavior of some individuals who participated in the race without registration or numbers created abnormal images," she told state media.
She emphasized that the Ministry of Sports and Youth "condemned such behavior and will not permit anyone to normalize a behavior that contradicts the values of Islamic society and the beliefs of the Iranian people in the name of sports."
The incident comes as the Iranian authorities have intensified their efforts to impose the compulsory headscarf in recent weeks as more women flout the Islamic Republic's strict dress code.
All women in Iran must conceal their hair with a headscarf and wear loose fitting trousers under their coats while in public.
But a growing number of women have appeared in public without hijab since 22-year-old Mahsa Amini died in police custody in September, sparking nationwide protests demanding fundamental economic, social and political changes. Amini had been arrested for allegedly wearing a headscarf improperly.
Some defiant women were arrested, summoned by the authorities and faced legal cases, while hundreds of small businesses and shopping malls were shut down in recent months for allegedly failing to enforce the country's hijab law on their customers.