Saudi woman to compete without Islamic headscarf

LONDON Thu Jul 26, 2012 10:01pm IST

LONDON (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia's female judo competitor will fight at the London Olympics "without a hijab", or Islamic headscarf, the sport's chief said on Thursday.

Wodjan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shaherkani, one of the first two female athletes sent to the Olympics by the conservative Muslim kingdom, is due to compete in the women's heavyweight tournament next Friday.

"She will fight according to the principle and spirit of judo, so without a hijab," International Judo Federation president Marius Vizer said.

The decision is likely to cause controversy in Saudi Arabia, where female participation in sports has long been a controversial issue. Powerful clerics denounce women for exercising, saying it goes against their natural role.

A Saudi official had told Reuters earlier this month they expected that the women would have to obey the dress code of Islamic law. He did not elaborate, but other conservative Muslim countries have interpreted this to mean a headscarf, long sleeves and long pants.

Shaherkani, who will compete in the 78-kg category in judo, and teenage 800 metre runner Sarah Attar were the first Saudi women allowed to take part in the Olympics after talks between the International Olympic Committee and the country.

The decision to allow female Saudi athletes to compete at London was praised by IOC President Jacques Rogge at the time.

"This is very positive news and we will be delighted to welcome these two athletes in London in a few weeks time," Rogge said in a statement in early July.

"The IOC has been striving to ensure a greater gender balance at the Olympic Games, and (today's) news can be seen as an encouraging evolution."

Saudi Arabia was one of three countries, alongside Brunei and Qatar, never to have sent female athletes to the Olympics but the latter two confirmed earlier this year that their delegations would include women. (Reporting by Michael Holden; Editing by Ossian Shine and Sonya Hepinstall)

Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

TENNIS

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Target: Hamilton

Target: Hamilton

Nico Rosberg out to wreck Hamilton hat-trick bid.  Full Article 

Back on Top

Back on Top

Podolski double gets Arsenal back into top four.  Full Article 

IPL Boycott

IPL Boycott

News agencies to boycott IPL over photo restrictions.  Full Article 

Pistorius Trial

Pistorius Trial

Prosecutor wraps up Pistorius grilling in murder trial.  Full Article 

Djokovic Cruises

Djokovic Cruises

Novak Djokovic strolls into Monte Carlo third round.  Full Article 

Boston Anniversary

Boston Anniversary

Boston marks anniversary of bombing with somber ceremonies.  Full Article 

Against World Cup

Against World Cup

Small-scale World Cup protests continue in Brazil.  Full Article 

Formula One

Formula One

Red Bull appeal rejected - International Federation.  Full Article 

Sloppy Work

Sloppy Work

CAS blasts Jamaica over sloppy anti-doping procedures.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage