Monday, February 20, 2012

Saudi Arabia maintains its ban on women in Olympics

From Bikya Masr:
Less than three months after Saudi Arabia said it would permit women to participate in the London 2012 Olympic Games, it has reportedly reneged on their agreement, barring women from entering the Games.

The move will also threaten the country’s overall participation in the Olympics, with the International Olympic Committee saying that all countries must field female athletes as part of their teams.

The decision has been roundly criticized by human rights organizations, including Human Rights Watch (HRW), which said in a press release that the move is counter to the Olympic Charter, which says, “The practice of sport is a human right. Every individual must have the possibility of practicing sport, without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit.”

HRW said it shouldn’t be too surprising, however, as state-run schools offer no physical education for girls and only men belong to sports clubs in the country.

“In fact, government restrictions on women essentially bar them from sports,” a new report says, HRW reported.

The IOC Women’s Chair Anita DeFrantz warned the country in 2010 that if female athletes are not allowed to participate, the country could face being banned from the global competition.
But it looks like the IOC will cave:
The chairman of the London 2012 Olympics said on Thursday that the Olympic committee needed to encourage more inclusiveness by countries that failed to send women to the games but cautioned that "sport is not the panacea for all ills."

"I think you can use sport in a way to encourage social change at a sensible rate," Sebastian Coe, chairman of the London Games, told Reuters in an interview. "The world is diverse, it's very complex, there are sometimes barriers that are not going to be broken down overnight."
Way to show leadership!

(h/t Ian)