A Culture Ministry official says exhibition organizers wanted to avoid scandalizing female visitors.
Greek Deputy Culture Minister Costas Tzavaras, who visited the Muslim country last month for the exhibition opening, objected, saying the works should be displayed as they were or shipped home.
So the statues were returned to Athens last week, the official said on condition of anonymity because she was not authorized to speak on the record.
Qatari officials could not immediately be reached for comment Thursday night.
The statues date to the 6th and 2nd centuries BC. They were among nearly 600 antiquities brought from Greece for the "Olympics - Past and Present" exhibition.
“For the first time, an exhibition showcases the cultural history of the ancient and modern Olympics on such a scale, not to mention a special section on Qatar’s participation in the world-class event,” said Dr. Christian Wacker, Director of the Qatar Olympic & Sports Museum. “ExxonMobil has shown its dedication to sports in Qatar in various local events and we welcome the opportunity to cooperate with such a committed partner.”
Of course, the Qatar isn't the only place where nude statues are objectionable. According to The Daily Mail, a 40-foot statue of Vivienne Westwood was banned from a "Punk: Chaos to Couture" exhibit scheduled to open May 6 at London't Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.