Great News: Saudi Arabia Agrees To Send 2 Women To Olympics
10:00 am, July 12th | by Amy Tennery
After months of will-they-won’t-they, news emerged this morning that the Saudi Olympic team will include two women, according to the Christian Science Monitor, a judo athlete Wodjan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shahrkhani and runner Sarah Attar. The announcement comes after weeks of back and forth for the country, which had until now barred women from competing in the games. The International Olympic Committee, bless its heart, announced this year that any nation restricting its female athletes from eligibility wouldn’t be allowed to compete in London. Go, IOC, go.
What followed the IOC’s announcement, however, was weeks of back-and-forth, in which Saudi officials waffled between conceding to the IOC’s demands and snubbing them. And while Saudi’s Olympic committee has conceded to the IOC’s standards, the soap opera leading up to today’s announcement made it clear it’s not really happy about this.
Late last month, Saudi Arabia announced that a female equestrian Dalma Rushi Malhas would be made eligible to compete, allowing for the country’s many male athletes to participate in the games. Then — whoops! — turns out her horse was injured and she wouldn’t be able to compete after all, according to the Saudi Arabian Olympic Committee. Following that, the committee said that no women made the cut at all. How convenient.
Caught in the middle of this, of course, were several Saudi male and female athletes, who probably just wanted a head’s up on whether they’d be competing on the world’s stage, having all their wildest dreams come true, etc.
While it’s entirely possible that Saudi Arabia might back out, yet again, its decision to name two specific women it plans to send to the games is encouraging. Let’s hope Saudi Arabia sticks the landing.