Since their first year participating in the Olympics, three countries have never sent a woman athlete: Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Brunei. Two of these countries agreed to send their first female competitor to the London Olympics in 2012. Saudi Arabia was the last hold-out, forcing a face-off with the International Olympic Committee. Well, Saudi Arabia has caved and sent not one, but two women to the Olympics in London. Sarah Attar, a Saudi-American runner, and Wodjan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shahrkhani, a judoka.
“The IOC has been working very closely with the Saudi Arabian Olympic Committee and I am pleased to see that our continued dialogue has come to fruition,” said IOC chairman Jacques Rogge. ”The IOC has been striving to ensure a greater gender balance at the Olympic Games, and today’s news can be seen as an encouraging evolution. With Saudi Arabian female athletes now joining their fellow female competitors from Qatar and Brunei Darussalam, it means that by London 2012 every National Olympic Committee will have sent women to the Olympic Games.”
Neither woman has much hope when it comes to winning a medal in the Olympics, but merely sending female competitors in a country where women’s sports are pretty much illegal and very frowned upon is a step in the right direction. I wouldn’t expect Saudi Arabia to launch Title IX any time soon, but you have to start somewhere. Let’s remember this is a country where vultures are Jewish spies, judges can order you to be paralyzed, and religious police smash down women’s rights and general freedom of communication.
Tags: ioc, international olympic committee, jacques rogge, sarah attar, Wodjan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shahrkhani, Saudi Arabia, Saudi Arabian Olympic Committee, saudi olympic team, london, london olympics, saudi arabia to send women to 2012 olympics, brunei, qatar, arab countries to send women to olympics for the first time, judo, 800 meter running, saudi women olympians, saudi olympics, sports, title ix