Saudi Arabia wants to host a men-only Olympics. What a fun idea.
Saudi Arabia has proposed holding a gender-segregated Olympic Games.
In comments made by Prince Fahad bin Jalawi al-Saud – a consultant to the Saudi Olympic Committee –it was suggested the country could bid jointly with Bahrain, which could host the women’s events.
“Our society can be very conservative. It has a hard time accepting that women can compete in sports,” the Prince told French website Francs Jeux.
“Wearing sports clothing in public is not really allowed. For these cultural reasons, it is difficult to bid for certain big international events.”
Right – and that’s as it should be. It should, in fact, be 100% impossible for Saudi Arabia to host any big international events of any kind. Saudi Arabia bans half of its population from public life altogether. That should make it a pariah state.
In recommendations for reform, published last November, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) opened the door to joint bids in 2020.
But it moved to quickly shoot down Saudi Arabia’s suggestion.
IOC President Thomas Bach released a statement explaining that Saudi Arabia would be denied the chance to bid, unless it complied with rules barring discrimination.
“A commitment to ‘non-discrimination’ will be mandatory for all countries hoping to bid for the Olympics in the future,” Bach said. “This was made very clear in the Olympic Agenda 2020 reforms and will even be in the host city contract.
“If this is not applied, the bid would not be admissible. Countries like Saudi Arabia must really work to allow female athletes to ‘freely participate.”‘
And IOC spokesman added: “You cannot simply ‘outsource’ certain issues to another territory”.
Good. That’s as it should be.
London 2012 was the first time that Saudi Arabia had sent female athletes to an Olympic Games, under pressure from the IOC. But the two women chosen –judoka Wojdan Shaherkani and and 800m runner Sarah Attar– were widely denounced as ‘prostitutes’ on social media by conservatives. They competed with their hair covered and were accompanied by male guardians. The country sent a male-only team to last year’s Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea.
They shouldn’t be allowed to participate at all on that basis. Just say no.