BEIRUT: There was no “female sports activity” in the past nor will there be any now, were the comments issued by the Saudi sports minister and head of the Saudi National Olympic Committee on April 4, as he shot down hopes of Saudi women athletes due to debut at the games in London. The Human Rights Watch on Thursday urged the IOC to put Saudi discrimination against women in sports on the agenda of its next executive board meeting in Quebec on May 23.
A statement published on the Human Rights Watch (HRW) website, quoted Prince Nawwaf al-Faisal said that Saudi Arabia will not support women in practicing sports.
“At present, we are not embracing any female Saudi participation in the Olympics or other international championships,” the HRW statement quoted Prince Nawwaf.
Chistoph Wilcke, senior Middle East researcher at the Human Rights Watch said that Saudi Arabia had just given official confirmation to Saudi Arabia’s discrimination against women in sports. “If the International Olympic Committee was looking for an official affirmation of Saudi discrimination against women in sports, the minister in charge just gave it,” said Wilcke. “It is impossible to square Saudi discrimination against women with the noble values of the Olympic Charter.”
Human Rights Watch called on the IOC to take up Saudi discrimination against women in sport at its next executive board meeting in Quebec on May 23.
“The time is running out for hope that dialogue with Saudi authorities will lead to a change in discriminatory policies,” Wilcke said. “It is clear that a symbolic participation in the London 2012 games by Saudi women athletes does not mean an end to the systematic discrimination against women practicing sports in Saudi Arabia and in international competitions.”