London Olympics: Special veil for Saudi judoka

Saudi women must be given every opportunity, IOC says

31 July, 16:42

(ANSAMed) - LONDON, JULY 31 - Saudi judoka Wojdan Shaherkani will be able to both keep her hair hidden and compete in the Olympics, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) made known on Tuesday.

Officials have come up with a compromise veil, one that will not hinder or endanger the 16-year-old athlete as she represents her country on the mat, Saudi Olympic team spokesperson Razan Baker said.

The International Judo Federation last week said that she must remove her religiously-mandated head scarf for the match for safety reasons. The hijab, as it is known, could cause her to be strangled, the Federation said, but her father and Saudi officials said Shaherkani can't compete without it. ''We're satisfied with the solution, because we want to give Saudi women every opportunity to compete in the Games. This is why we intervened to facilitate an agreement,'' said IOC spokesman Mark Adams. Shaherkani and runner Sarah Attar are the first female members of Saudi Arabia's Olympic team. One of the world's most conservative Muslim countries, Saudi Arabia closely curtails the activities of women. They can't drive, or play sports before mixed crowds of men and women. Public schools include neither sports nor physical education classes for girls, although many play soccer and other games at home. (ANSAMed).

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