07/31/2012, 00.00
G. BRITAIN - S. ARABIA

London 2012: Saudi judoka can compete (with veil)

The athlete will participate wearing special headgear. Originally, the International Judo Federation (IJF) had admitted Wojdan AliSeraj Abdulrahim Shaherkani, but only bare-headed "for security reasons." The girl's father has threatened to withdraw her from competition. She will compete on 3 August in the +78 kg category.

London (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The Saudi judoka can compete in the Olympic Games, wearing a "special" veil. It was announced by the Saudi National Olympic Committee, the International Olympic Committee and the International Judo Federation (IJF), thus resolving the dispute which was in danger of excluding the athlete from the competition. Wojdan AliSeraj Abdulrahim Shaherkani, 16, will take to the mat on the 3rd of August in the +78 kg category. The authorities have not yet revealed the design of the judo hijab.

In recent days, some IJF statements threatened to "prevent" the girl from participating in the Olympics. IJF President, Marius Vizer, had maintained that the athlete would have to compete without the hijab, for safety reasons. At that point, the judoka's father threatened to withdraw his daughter from the competition, if the authorities had forbidden her from wearing the Islamic veil.

According to the IJF official rules, athletes can not wear any type of headgear during the fights: during the wrestle, the garment may move and lead to strangulation or other problems.

Wojdan AliSeraj Abdulrahim Shaherkani is one of two Saudi women athletes representing the country at the London 2012 Games. The other is Sarah Attar, who will compete in the athletics 800m. Saudi Arabia removed its ban on women in the Olympic team on June 26 last, to avoid exclusion from competition on grounds of sex discrimination. The Olympic Charter provides for the waiver of any country that practices any form of discrimination. In the wake of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Brunei also sent female athletes to the Games.

 

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