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Saudi Arabia Says No To Sending Women To Olympics

Saudi Arabia Says No To Sending Women To Olympics

Saudi Arabia will not be sending any female athletes to compete in the upcoming summer Olympics in London. The ultraconservative kingdom follows a strict Wahabi interpration of Sunni Islam that prevents women from driving, traveling on their own or seeking certain medical procedures without a male relative’s approval.

Saudi Arabia is now one of the very last countries to resist the International Olympic Committee (IOC)’s requirement to have female athletes on its team or risk being banned from the games. According to Agence France-Press (via Raw Story), Qatar and Brunei have also never sent female athletes to the Olympics; they and Saudi Arabia have been criticized by Anita DeFrantz, the president of the IOC’s Women and Sport Committee. Qatar, which is seeking to host the 2020 Olympics, has said that it will be sending female athletes to the London Olympics.

Prince Nawaf bin Faisal has said that Saudi women who wish to enter the Olympics on their own may do so and that his country’s Olympic authority will “only help in ensuring that their participation does not violate the Islamic sharia law.” The Saudi government currently forbids women from participating in sports in state-run schools and the country has no groups that organize athletic opportunities for women. Prince Faisal does claims that  ”Hundreds, if not thousands, of (Saudi) women who practice sports, but in private.”

18-year-old Dalma Rushdi Malhas, who lives aboard, won a bronze medal in the 2010 Singapore Youth Olympics, without Saudi Arabia itself nominating her. She will be the only female athlete on Saudi Arabia’s Olympic team. Notably, she is competing in an event that should be far less controversial to conservatives as riders compete fully clothed, only exposing their hands and faces.

A February report issued by the New York-based Human Rights Watch has condemned the “systematic exclusion of women from sporting activities in Saudi Arabia.”  A report issued late last year by Amnesty International went so far as to describe a “new wave of repression” in Saudi Arabia at the same time as pro-democracy uprisings were occurring in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Libya, Syria and Bahrain.

The Saudis sent troops to Bahrain in March of 2011 to suppress anti-government protesters. In contrast, along with Qatar, the Saudis have called for arming rebel fighters in Syria and are reportedly paying them. Saudi Arabia’s refusal to include female athletes on its Olympic team while saying that there are “hundreds, ir not thousands” of Saudi women practicing sports “in private” reveals a similar contradiction. If women can compete in sports in Saudi Arabia, why not include them on the country’s Olympic team?

Since Saudi Arabia is not sending any female athletes to the London Olympics, should the IOC ban the country from competition?

Related Care2 Coverage

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Photo by Roberto Trm

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97 comments

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3:21AM PDT on Jul 12, 2012

There should be sanctions against Saudi Arabia.

6:57AM PDT on Jul 11, 2012

Like I said, they control their women while they walk around enjoying the sun rays, looking if not having an affair with other women, but it's not ok for their women to drive cars, enjoy the sun rays, let their skin breath, always need an approval to go somewhere. What's next, they will need a man's approval to take a piss? I would have moved from that country long time ago if I had been born there. Dam, their women are prisoners sad to say. Ladies, if you're tired to being controlled by your country which is not fair, move from there and come to America and your dream will come true to compete in the Olympics next time. You will be free from prison lived sad selfish country.

5:58AM PDT on May 5, 2012

Why?
They should Saudi Arabia from any involvement in the London 2012

3:18AM PDT on Apr 9, 2012

Now there's a shocker. Not. Stand up for yourselves, women of the world. Petition signed.

3:09AM PDT on Apr 9, 2012

let them do what they want,to muslims women never been in good position.

1:20PM PDT on Apr 7, 2012

It very sad.

11:24AM PDT on Apr 7, 2012

ty

8:45AM PDT on Apr 7, 2012

It's time for the IOC to immediately dis-invite Saudi Arabia from London 2012

8:15AM PDT on Apr 7, 2012

Mary C.

Oh, by the way, Neanderthals were NOT knuckle draggers. They were big brained, fire and tool using hominids,,,generally considered apex predators,,,until they met OUR ancestors...

8:13AM PDT on Apr 7, 2012

Saudi Arabia is a religious monarchy. The King must contend with hundreds of tribal elders, some of whom are not all that happy that the tribe of Saud is running things. These tribal customs are the problem, not Islam. It's all about running a country with many contentious tribes,each with their own ancient customs.

I expect it will take at least another century for them to manage the transition to a more or less meritocratic society.

Hey, that's people for you. Slow to change...

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Kristina Chew Kristina Chew teaches and writes about ancient Greek and Latin and is Online Advocacy and Marketing... more
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