View Full Version : Saudi Arabia attempts to enter women in Olympics for first time

Jun 25th, 2012, 07:46 PM
Saudi Arabia will enter women for London Olympics

RIYADH (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia will enter women athletes in the Olympics for the first time ever in London this summer, the Islamic kingdom's London embassy said on Sunday.

Human rights groups had called on the International Olympic Committee to bar Saudi Arabia from competing in London, citing its failure ever to send a woman athlete to a Games and its ban on sports in girls' state schools.

Powerful Muslim clerics in the ultra-conservative state have repeatedly spoken out against the participation of girls and women in sports.

In Saudi Arabia women hold a lower legal status to men, are banned from driving and need a male guardian's permission to work, travel or open a bank account.

Under King Abdullah, however, the government has pushed for them to have better education and work opportunities and allowed them to vote in future municipal elections, the only public polls held in the kingdom.

"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," said a statement published on the embassy website.

In April the head of the kingdom's General Presidency of Youth Welfare, the body that regulates sports in Saudi Arabia, said it would not prevent women from competing but that they would not have official government endorsement.

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.

Top Saudi clerics, who hold government positions and have always constituted an important support base for the ruling al-Saud royal family, have spoken against female participation in sports.

In 2009 a senior cleric said girls risked losing their virginity by tearing their hymens if they took part in energetic sport.

Perhaps the most likely woman candidate to compete under the Saudi flag in London, equestrian Dalma Malhas, represented the kingdom at the junior Olympics in Singapore in 2010, but without official support or recognition.

Physical education is banned in girls' state schools in the kingdom, but Saudi Arabia's only female deputy minister, Noura al-Fayez, has written to Human Rights Watch saying there is a plan to introduce it.

(Reporting by Angus McDowall and Asma Alsharif; editing by Andrew Roche)

Dalma Rushdi Malhas of Saudi Arabia rides on the horse Flash Top Hat

Jun 25th, 2012, 07:56 PM
Saudi Arabian show jumper Dalma Rushi Malhas, who aimed to be the first female Olympian for Saudi Arabia, failed to qualify for the 2012 London Olympics.

"There have been some reports in the media, but regretfully the Saudi Arabian rider Dalma Rushdi Malhas has not attained the minimum eligibility standards and consequently will not be competing at the London 2012 Olympic Games," International Equestrian Federation secretary General Ingmar De Vos said in a statement.

Malhas, 20, hoped to be the first female Olympian for a nation that bans public sports event for women, but she did not meet the eligibility standards by June 17. AFP reports that her horse was sidelined by an injury, which forced her to miss "a month's work during the qualifying period."

Malhas won a bronze medal at the 2010 Singapore Youth Olympics and was believed to have a good shot at qualifying for the 2012 Olympics, but will instead set her sights on 2016, according to her mother.

"It would have been a great opportunity to have a female athlete on the Saudi equestrian team," Malhas's mother Arwa Mutabagani told AFP. "But Dalma is young and she is determined to represent Saudi Arabia at the highest level, so we have great hopes for Rio 2016."

Malhas' inability to qualify for the Olympics represents a missed opportunity for Saudi Arabia. The country has finally joined the 21st Century and agreed to allow its female citizens compete, but might not have a female athlete qualify.

Jun 25th, 2012, 10:44 PM
Better late than never.

Sad about Dalma :sad:
She did pretty well at the Youth Olympic Games.

Jun 25th, 2012, 10:45 PM
Before or after they cut off their clits?

Lin Lin
Jun 26th, 2012, 01:58 PM