Saudi Female Athletes At The Olympics
I know this is not new information but I want to mark it and mention it on the blog. I am really pleased to see this – its progress. I am sad however that the judoka will not be permitted to wear a headscarf if she competes. That’s an awful choice to have to make for a woman who covers. It’s going to be important to support the women arriving in London to the Games but I think the IOC thoughts on this ruling could have been wiser if they really did want to open the door for full female participation from conservative Arab States. By this one statement and ruling, there are already probably a number of young women and girls in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere who will be prevented from participating in sport in the future-especially at higher levels, where the argument of how it will interfere with their faith will be used.
It goes against every bit of campaigning that was done to get these women here in the first place. I cannot see how wearing a headscarf is going to be unsafe, as decided by the IOC committee. FIFA said that about football and now with persistence and dedication demonstrated by passionate Muslim female football players, and by example, this notion has been kicked into touch. Pun intended.
Will the same happen for all other sports – where we can get rid of this rather daft notion that covering the hair and being modestly dressed is dangerous? I think the only time I would really think wearing a headscarf would be dangerous would be in an event like competitive flame throwing or something. But I can hardly ever see that being an Olympic sport. Everything else really should be fine. The only actual harm being done is through this decision is to the athlete in terms of the pressure it will put on her to choose, and subsequently face potential criticism or worse on return home and to other future female athletes from conservative Muslim states.