Saudis to Send Women to London Olympics After All

London 2012 mascots Wenlock and Mandeville

London Olympic mascots Wenlock and Mandeville. Photo: LOCOG

The 2012 London summer Olympics will be the first time Saudi women athletes will be able to compete. According to the Associated Press,

The discussions on sending women to the games have been wrapped in secrecy for fear of a backlash from the powerful religious establishment and deeply traditional society in which women are severely restricted in public life and are not even allowed to drive. There are no written laws that restrict women from participating in sport in Saudi Arabia, home to Islam’s holiest shrines, though the omission of female athletes from the team has been rooted in conservative tribal traditions and religious views.

Reuters reports that Dalma Malhas, an equestrian who competed in the 2010 junior Olympics, is the country’s “most likely woman candidate.” Yet The Atlantic is reporting that Malhas does not qualify due to her horse being injured. According to the AP, the IOC may have to grant the women special entry to the Games, since they “may not meet the international qualifying standards.”

The 1900 Paris Olympics marked the first time women were allowed to participate in the games.

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