Saudi Arabia: Whither Saudi Female Olympians…

How could officials in Saudi Arabia go from “sending a list of female candidates to the International Olympic Committee for consideration” to refusing women to be part of the Saudi official team?

I find this abrupt turnaround of view to be extremely disappointing.  For once, I was not “cautiously optimistic” but actually feeling confident that Saudi Arabia would have some official female Olympians.

I’m not an expert on understanding all the rules and regulations of the Olympic Committee and its charter.  I don’t understand how Saudi women could go ahead and participate in the London Olympics without official endorsement from the Kingdom.  Can someone explain that to me?  That comment  just sounds like a face-saving attempt full of gobbledy gook to me.

Yet if a Saudi woman is able to slide in to the Olympics without official endorsement from the Kingdom, Saudi officials still have the “right” to ensure that she is “Islamically attired.”

I’m incensed by this latest in the saga of Saudi women participating in the Olympics.  How do Saudi women feel about this news?  Or perhaps more women would just like to see physical education programs implemented in schools for female students before launching to the Olympics?


17 Responses

  1. How disappointing!

  2. If IOC allows Saudi into the Olympics then it is as big a joke as stating that Saudi provides human rights to women. Here’s hoping they don’t allow them in as Saudi doesn’t deserve to be there.

  3. The whole thing is an exercise in tortured semantics. Competitors at the Olympics participate as members of a national team organised by the Olympic Committee of that country. If the Saudi Olympic Committee selects no women competitors in the national team, then there will be no women representing Saudi Arabia at the games.

    The IOC does have a mechanism to allow athletes to compete in situations where a national olympic committee has collapsed, or doesn’t exit, due to civil war or military occupation ( Palestine for example ) – but this mechanism shouldn’t be used in the Saudi case.

    The blunt reality is that as signatories to the Olympic charter, the Saudis are obliged to uphold a non-dicrimination policy, that evolved in the wake of the 1936 games. The best example of a country being banned from the olympics is South Africa during the apartheid era – and it is inconceivable that any country could currently get away with a policy that banned competitors from their national team on the basis of race or creed.

  4. I feel so proud to have played the role of Grand Nostradamus when I predicted, couple of weeks ago, the outcome of the saudi female athletes being allowed to participate in the olympics by KSA :)-

    Honest Abe, on March 27, 2012 at 4:46 pm said:

    …….. Above all, at any moment, Sharia and accompanying standards of gender segregation, “modesty,” and so forth may be invoked by the Grand Mufti and his cohorts to squash the whole deal, or at least make matters as difficult as possible ……

    Honest “Grand Nostradamus” Abe

  5. Next is Egypt iwth the Brotherhood.

  6. yeah, it’s funny how the MB promised not to run any candidates for president…and now they are. Flipfloppers exist no matter what country or religion, apparently.

  7. There is only 1 way the saudi women can compete — If they protest adn demand to be allowed to compete. the rest of the world cannot fight their battles.

    since no saudi women are protesting this, i’m assuming they don’t care or their guardians don’t allow themto care. either way there’s nothing much outsiders can do.

  8. Qatar has three women on their team. I’m not sure what the “wildcard” option is, but that it how it seems the Qatari women made it on the team. They’ll compete in sprinting, rifle shooting and swimming.

    I sense that the Olympics are not considered a big deal in Saudi Arabia whether for men or women. I know the culture is not conducive to healthy lifestyles and physical activities.

  9. Radhaa

    It is certainly within the remit of the IOC to demand that the Saudi national Olympic Committee select female competitors to represent the national team, as per the requirements of the charter to which the Saudis are signatories to. The penalty for non-compliance being suspension of the Saudis from participation until such time as they comply. That said, banning the Saudis from competition can only work as a shaming tactic – and I don’t get the sense of any shame or discomfort in the Saudi position; in all likelihood such a ban would only get manipulated for the purposes of domestic politics, and quite where that would lead is anybody’s guess.

    Whether this would work is unclear – South Africa only resumed competition after the dismantling of the apartheid system; and unlike the Saudis, the white South Africans were, and remain, a nation of dedicated sports enthusiasts who felt a considerable degree of upset at being excluded from international rugby, cricket etc.

    I suspect that you’re correct that it’s only internal pressure that will change things, and there are currently few observable mechanisms for achieving this.

  10. You’re likely right, Dan. ):

  11. @Dan – The saudi i lived in didn’t care at al about olympics/phy activity . there was no horor/shame etc., attached to women participating or not in phy activity. in fact quite the opposite. times have changed, maybe th eyounger generation of girls takes pride in this. i really can’t say sinc ei have not been there in a long while but banning saudi won’t in MY opinion have any effect it’ll just get them to accuse everyone else of the us Vs them and who knows they’ll probably be glad there were were protected adn left alone .
    The saudi women have quite a few hurdles to jump before they hit this one i guess.

  12. Sigh.

  13. IOC must ban Saudi and other Islamofacist countries that officially practice gender segregation and human rights abuses.

    Having Saudi and other Muslim countries who share their Wahabi terrorist ideology is against the principles and values of Olympic games

  14. So the effort of the Princess climbing Mount Everest, is seen as novelty in KSA? Not surprising.

  15. @Jean – Where did you get that idea? I personally know that the women involved do not think of their endeavor as a novelty.

  16. Saudi sports commentator: ‘Allah slaughter me’ before Saudi women enter Olympics. While a few Americans might find women’s Olympic sports to be a little less exciting than men’s, likely none would take death over watching their countrywomen participate on the international stage. That does not appear to be the case in the Islamic Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

    In a recent video , Saudi sports commentator Fahd Al-Raoughui explains in an interview on Saudi Arabia’s Line Sport TV that he would rather be “slaughtered by Allah” than see Saudi women participate in the Olympics. “Woe betide whoever supports [Saudi women in the Olympics],” he said. According to this male chauvinist specimen, even if the women stick to their religious restrictions it would still be a travesty if they attend the games.

    “What religious restrictions?” he retorts. “These women will mix with strangers … A woman’s beauty lies in her chastity, and in how she raises her children in the private kingdom of her home.” Indeed, if women do participate it will turn the country into a “laughing stock,” according to the Al-Raoughui.

  17. I’m torn on this. Certainly the Saudi team deserves to be banned, but I’d like whatever happens to be what benefits Saudi women most- and I’m not quite sure which that would be practically speaking. A ban might motivate them- as the bulk of the Saudi team is their football team and they love that here. Or they’ll sit and whine about the world hating Islam and the west….blah…blah…blah….

    As for Mr. Fahd Al Raoughui, mentioned above by Abe- well, hopefully soon women WILL be in the Olympics and hopefully Allah will take under advisement his wishes for when that happens.

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