A piece of good news, for once – thanks to Maureen Brian for alerting us.
A statement issued by the Saudi Embassy in London says the country’s Olympic Committee will “oversee participation of women athletes who can qualify”.
The decision will end recent speculation as to whether the entire Saudi team could have been disqualified on grounds of gender discrimination.
And it will also…you know…allow women to compete.
Mind you, because of the stifling rules women have to obey in Saudi Arabia, and the lack of provision for athletic activities for women, there are few women who can actually take advantage of this permission…In fact there’s one. But, baby steps.
There is almost no public tradition of women participating in sport in the country.
Saudi officials say that with the Games now just a few weeks away, the only female competitor at Olympic standard is showjumper Dalma Rushdi Malhas.
But they added that there may be scope for others to compete and that if successful they would be dressed “to preserve their dignity”.
In practice this is likely to mean modest, loose-fitting garments and “a sports hijab”, a scarf covering the hair but not the face.
“Modest loose-fitting garments” could of course hinder their performance in most activities…But, baby steps.