07/13/2012, 00.00
SAUDI ARABIA - OLYMPICS
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Saudi Arabia reveals two women athletes, first to compete for country in Olympic Games

Sarah Attare in athletics, Wodjan Abdulrahim Ali Seraj in judo. The choice of female athletes has caused many difficulties for the local Olympic committee, who have struggled to find candidates with the necessary requirements to participate in the Olympics.

London (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Saudi Arabia has revealed the names of two female athletes who will compete in the Olympics in London 2012: Sarah Attar and Wodjan Abdulrahim Ali Seraj. The first will compete in the 800 meters race, the second in the judo. So far neither has issued statements. The choice of female athletes has caused many difficulties to the local Olympic committee, who have struggled to find candidates with the necessary requirements to participate in the Olympics.

The Saudi kingdom removed the ban on women taking part in the Olympic Games on June 26. The risk was the exclusion from athletics for sex discrimination. King Abdullah's decision sparked a fierce debate between the ruling dynasty, custodian of the holy places of Islam and the religious authorities, who accuse the monarch of violating Koranic laws. In 2008 Saudi Arabia had agreed to allow Dalma Rushdi Malhas, born in the United States to Saudi parents, to compete at the Beijing Games in the equestrian competition.

In February, Human Rights Watch released a report on women and sport in the country, asking the Saudi government to respect the right of women to practice a sport and the International Olympic Committee to take action against Saudi Arabia. The Olympic Charter - which sets the general rules of the Games - provides for the exclusion of any country that practices a form of discrimination. The norm has been applied several times in the past: South Africa, for example, could not participate in competitions from 1964 to 1992 because of apartheid, while Afghanistan was ruled out of the 2000 Olympics because of women's oppression under the Taliban regime.

In the wake of the Saudi case, two other Islamic countries, Qatar and Brunei, also for the first time in their history, will send women athletes to the Olympic Games.

In total, about 10,500 women athletes who will compete in the Olympics in London, representing over 200 countries.

 

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