Saudis resist pressure to include women

Saudi Arabia looks set to send an all-male Olympic team to London after resisting IOC efforts to include women athletes.


IOC President Jacques Rogge has refused to consider the possibility of sanctions against the Gulf state or allow Saudi women to compete under a neutral flag.

"We are continuing to discuss with them, and their athletes are training and we hope that they will qualify in due time for the Games," Rogge said. "There is absolutely no reason to consider the participation of Saudi women under an IOC flag.

"There is a commitment (to allow women to compete), it is not an easy situation and we are working with them to find a solution."

If the issue remains unresolved, Saudi Arabia would be the only country competing in London without a female representative.

Qatar, Brunei and Saudi Arabia were the only countries to send all male teams to the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Both Qatar and Brunei have committed to sending women athletes to London.

The IOC has come under pressure to expel Saudi Arabia, as their stance contradicts the IOC charter which reads: “any form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person on grounds of race, religion, politics, sex or otherwise is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic Movement”.

Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch, Sarah Leah Whitson, said:

“Saudi Arabia is the last hold-out denying women and girls the ability to take part in sports,”

“The Saudi government’s position should trigger serious scrutiny by the Olympic family. The dismal and unequal conditions for women and girls who seek to practice sports in Saudi Arabia need to change now.”

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