The door opens just a little

A piece of good news, for once – thanks to Maureen Brian for alerting us.

Saudi Arabia is allowing women to compete in the Olympics.

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.



  1. 'Tis Himself says

    Some years ago there was an inquiry by some Muslim dictator, I believe it was Gaddafi, about holding the Olympics in his country. The question of what women participants would wear was a major sticking point and the bid was ultimately withdrawn.

  2. C Rowan says

    The Iranian FIFA team was disqualified for wearing Hijabs last year. The claim was they were told not to wear them but the team said they weren’t informed until they were scheduled to play. This could indeed be a sticking point. However, I think it can be done. Baby steps, indeed. One competitor this time, three or four next time, and so on. I hope Saudi Arabia and Olympic committee come to an agreement.

  3. says

    I find it ironic when I see young Muslim women who wear the head coverings and clothes that reveal no skin beyond their hands and face – and it’s all incredibly form fitting. My feminist and atheist selves find themselves unable to decide what to encourage beyond the “ditch the rest of the ridiculous Islamic rules regarding your hair” aspect.

  4. Didaktylos says

    Let’s see – as well as equestrianism, fencing might be possible. Archery and other marksmanship disciplines, likewise.

    Interesting – note that Saudi’s sole candidate is from one of the few sports where males and females can compete against each other as equals …

  5. No Light says

    Tabby – certain ultra.orthodox Jewish sects have the same issue. Lubavitch women are particularly fanned for the way they cover their hair and bodies in line with the concept of ‘tznius’ (modesty)

    Their hair is typically covered with a $5000 real-hair wig, long and highlighted, and indistinguishable from (and virtually always better looking than) their real hair.

    Their clothes are often so form-fitting that you can see their c-section scars, freckles, and their last meal.

    And the shoes? Oy gevalt!

    The look is referred to as the ‘hot chanie’, as has led to rebbeim (leading rabbis) in other sects banning sheitels (wigs) altogether.

  6. Rich Wilson says

    I’ll be impressed when Islamic women can compete in Beach Volleyball, and all the women on both teams are wearing WTF they want.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *