Even as the final countdown for the Rio Olympics is on, the Saudi Olympic committee has announced that four female athletes will compete as part of the conservative Gulf kingdom’s team at the Games. The announcement is worth mentioning since women in Saudi Arabia are generally not permitted to travel, study or play without male companions or guardians in the conservative Saudi society. Amidst all, this decision is a breakthrough and here’s what you should know about it:
- Sara Al-Attar, Lubna Al-Omair, Cariman Abu Al-Jadail and Wujud Fahmi are the women who broke the glass-ceiling, becoming only the second group of women Olympians to represent Saudi Arabia.
- Attar has previously run the 800 metres at the London Olympics. She with another runner, Abu Al-Jadail, will run in the 100 metres. Omair will participate in fencing, while Fahmi will be in the under-52 kg judo event.
- Considering the restrictions on women, the official announcement or the Olympic squad mentions only the names of the male members of the squad.
- The four women will be given wildcard entries so they can represent their country without having to go through formal qualification standards.
- It’s not the first time that such a decision has been made. Earlier for the 2012 Olympics in London, Saudia Arabia entered two women under a similar arrangement.
- While Women’s special gyms are yet to be licenced, Saudi Arabia recently announced a package of economic reforms which have set out the licensing of women’s “sports halls” by 2020.
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