Saudi Arabia Is Now Going to Allow Women to Compete in the Olympics
For the first time, Saudi Arabia will enter female athletes in the London Olympics according to a statement published on the embassy website.
“The kingdom of Saudi Arabia is looking forward to its complete participation in the London 2012 Olympic Games through the Saudi Arabian Olympic Committee, which will oversee the participation of women athletes who can qualify for the games,” the statement read.
In Saudi Arabia, women do not have the same rights as men. They are not allowed to drive and are required to have a male guardian’s permission to work and travel.
In girls’ state schools, physical education is currently banned. But the country’s only female deputy minister, Noura al-Fayez, has written to Human Rights Watch–who with other human rights groups had called for the International Olympic Committee to bar Saudi Arabia from competing in London due to the ban–saying there is a plan to introduce it.
Muslim clerics have repeatedly spoken out against the participation of girls and women in sports, but under King Abdullah, the government has pushed for women to have better education and work opportunities and allowed them to vote in future municipal elections–the only public polls held there.
The IOC said on Monday that talks with the Saudis were “ongoing” and that “we are working to ensure the participation of Saudi women at the Games in London”.
The head of the kingdom’s Olympic mission, Khalid al-Dakheel, told Reuters on Sunday evening however he was unaware of any developments allowing women to participate.
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