For the first time ever at an Olympics Saudi Arabia is going to allow women to compete as part of their team at London 2012.
A statement released by the Saudi Embassy in London said that the Saudi Arabian Olympic Committee (SAOC) will “oversee participation of women athletes who can qualify” for the first time since they made their debut in the Games at Munich in 1972.
There is only female athlete expected to compete; showjumper Dalma Rushdi Malhas, who competed at the Summer Youth Olympics in Singapore two years ago under an International Olympic Committee (IOC) flag.
In Saudi Arabia many people still strongly oppose the public participation of women in sport, and so it has been a huge struggle to get the decision passed. But it is thought that King Abdullah, who has long been pushing for women to play a more active role in Saudi society, felt his country would be damaged on the international stage is they did not make this change.
There are only three countries that have never fielded a female competitor in the Olympics; Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Brunei. All three are now expected to in London.
Louise Hudson, Sportsister
The Women’s Sports Magazine