Saudi Arabian Olympic Committee
Saudi Arabian Olympic Committee logo
|National Olympic Committee|
|President||Nawaf bin Faisal Al Saud|
|Secretary General||Rashed Hamed Al Heraiwel|
Until the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, Saudi Arabia was one of three countries that had never had a female competitor at the games. The other two countries, Qatar and Brunei, also selected women to compete for the first time.
2012 Summer Olympics
In April 2012 the head of the Saudi Arabian Olympic Committee ruled against sending female participants to the Summer Olympics in London. The Olympic committee had previously released a list of potential candidates for the games which included females. Saudi Arabia's refusal to send women to the Olympics put them at odds with the Olympic charter which states that "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".
The Olympic Committee's stance was later changed and it was announced that two female athletes, Sarah Attar (in the 800m) and will compete in the 800m and Wojdan Shaherkani (in the +78 kg Judo) judo would compete in London.
Shaherkani was selected despite not meeting Olympic qualifying standards, by specific invitation of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Unlike most Olympic competitors, she did not win her spot through a national competition because Saudi Arabia strongly discourages women from participating in sport, and thus has no such competitions for women. Unlike other judoka in competition, who have attained black belts in the sport, she had only acquired a blue belt.
The IOC president Jacques Rogge said of Shahrkhani's and Attar's inclusion, "The I.O.C. 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."
The Saudi Arabian Olympic Committee preferred not to promote Shahrkhani's participation. They also required that she "dress modestly, be accompanied by a male guardian and not mix with men" while in London for the 2012 Games. Additionally, her competition clothing has to comply with Sharia law.
On 30 July 2012, Shahrkhani said that she would withdraw from the event if she was not permitted to wear her hijab during bouts. Her father (who often speaks for her, partially because she does not know English) clarified that he wanted his daughter to compete, and that they wanted to make "new history for Saudi's women," but that she would not participate without a hijab. The next day the I.O.C. and the International Judo Federation announced that agreement had been reached on a headscarf that she could wear.
- "IOC urged to ban Saudi Arabia from 2012 over stance on women". BBC News Online. 6 April 2012. Retrieved 6 April 2012.
- "London 2012 Olympics: Saudi Arabian women to compete". BBC News. 12 July 2012. Retrieved 12 July 2012.
- "London Olympics: Saudi Arabia to send 2 female athletes". GlobalPost. Retrieved 13 July 2012.
- "Saudis to send female athletes to Olympics for first time". The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram. Retrieved 12 July 2012.
- "London 2012: don't forget most Saudi women are banned from sport". The Guardian. 14 February 2012. Retrieved 14 July 2012.
- "Saudi women's Olympic judo bout over in 82 seconds". Times Union. Associated Press. 3 August 2012.
- Pilon, Mary (12 July 2012). "Two Female Athletes Will Compete for Saudi Arabia". New York Times. Retrieved 14 July 2012.
- "SPORTCHECK: Taboo over". New Straits Times. Retrieved 14 July 2012.
- "Olympics judo: Saudi Arabia judoka could pull out in hijab row". BBC. 30 July 2012. Retrieved 30 July 2012.
- "London Olympics: Saudi Judo player allowed to compete wearing hijab". Al Arabiya. 31 July 2012. Retrieved 31 July 2012.
- Matt Blake and Damien Gayle (31 July 2012). "Female Saudi judoka WILL fight in a hijab... agreement reached with Olympic officials to allow her to wear headscarf in competition". Daily Mail. Retrieved 31 July 2012.
- "Olympics judo: Saudi Arabia hijab dispute resolved". Retrieved 31 July 2012.