Olympic, Saudi officials in talks to resolve hijab ban

Published: July 27, 2012
International Judo Federation president confirmed female Saudi athletes would not be allowed to wear a hijab. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

International Judo Federation president confirmed female Saudi athletes would not be allowed to wear a hijab. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

LONDON: Olympic and Saudi Arabian officials are in talks with judo chiefs to find a solution after the sport’s governing body ruled the Saudi’s female competitor would have to fight without a hijab.

On Thursday, the head of the International Judo Federation (IJF) president Marius Vizer confirmed Wodjan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shaherkani, one of the first two female athletes sent to the Olympics by the Muslim kingdom, would not be allowed to wear a hijab.

Shaherkani is due to compete in the women’s heavyweight tournament next Friday, and her participation could now be in doubt.

“We still have one week. She is still scheduled to compete, there’s no information that she won’t compete,” IJF spokesman Nicolas Messner told Reuters. “We still have time.”

He said talks were underway between the Saudi Arabian National Olympic Committee, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the IJF to attempt to resolve the issue.

He did not elaborate on how this could be achieved but said there was “very good collaboration”.

IOC spokesman Mark Adams confirmed there had been a meeting on Thursday.

“It was a positive discussion and we are confident a solution will be found,” he said. Asked what that solution would be, he said: “there are a range of options.”

No one from the Saudi delegation could be reached for comment.

However, a Saudi official had told Reuters earlier this month they expected that the women would have to obey the Islamic dress code. He did not elaborate, but other Muslim countries have interpreted this to mean a headscarf, long sleeves and long pants.

Vizer told reporters that Shaherkani would fight according to “the principle and spirit of judo” and thus without a headscarf.

Shaherkani, who will compete in the 78-kg category in judo, and teenage 800 metre runner Sarah Attar were the first Saudi women allowed to take part in the Olympics after talks between the IOC and the country.

The decision to allow female Saudi athletes to compete at London was praised by IOC President Jacques Rogge at the time.

“This is very positive news and we will be delighted to welcome these two athletes in London in a few weeks time,” Rogge said in a statement in early July.

Saudi Arabia was one of three countries, alongside Brunei and Qatar, never to have sent female athletes to the Olympics but the latter two confirmed earlier this year that their delegations would include women.

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Reader Comments (17)

  • Uza Syed
    Jul 27, 2012 - 7:37PM

    It is good decision, they all can stay home with their Hijabs, no one is missing them anyways.


  • Saleem
    Jul 27, 2012 - 8:28PM

    The saudis should saty in their own country with their stone age mentality.


  • Hammad
    Jul 27, 2012 - 8:32PM

    Saudi Arabia should consider not participating in the Olympics, a tribute to the greek gods. They should think about creating their own version of the event for muslim countries where atheletes sit in tents, smoke sheeshas of different flavors and drink qahwa. Saudi girls whould excel at that, even with the hejab.


  • Muhammad Hassan
    Jul 27, 2012 - 8:37PM

    @Hammad: And we’ll call it Ummat Olympics!


  • Mj
    Jul 27, 2012 - 9:00PM

    @Muhammad Hassan:
    Let’s Arabize the name a bit…I suggest Ummahtil Alaab Alolumbia.


    Jul 27, 2012 - 10:38PM

    Your stupid comments don’t reach the pious Arab athletes. Keep flogging the dead horse.


  • stone
    Jul 27, 2012 - 10:45PM

    religion and it’s practices are far more important than Olympics. @ shakeel….. you better go live in France if you think you are a golden age liberal with no faith and culture to follow, understand !!!


  • a concerned female
    Jul 28, 2012 - 12:42AM

    She should be allowed to wear one of those swim cap-style head coverings, that way she can cover her hair but not be risking affecting the sport or competition in any way. There is nothing backwards about practicing her religion and competing in the olympics, How would any of you angry commenters feel if you were told you had to give up one of your religious practices in order to compete? Think about it.


  • Muhammad Hassan
    Jul 28, 2012 - 1:53AM

    @Stone: Does this country belongs to you. Why don’t you live in Somalia? As close as you can get to 1500 years ago!


  • Facts Faced
    Jul 28, 2012 - 4:47AM

    I think you all are being immature. Respecting a person’s choice in regards to what they wear is personal. I don’t think any of you are eligible to be commenting on that. If it was suddenly said that all athletes would have to wear hijab then it would be considered backward?

    I think part of being modernized means to respect the personal space of a person and we should respect that. I think most of the people here are acting absurd and trying to justify their stone age mentality with what arabs justify as their individuality.


  • stone
    Jul 28, 2012 - 10:54PM

    @ hassan … I’d better live in any country but not let anybody put finger on my beliefs, religious practices or religion. you better be ashamed of yourself calling a Muslim and joking about the Arabs who are far better than us!


  • Eileen Calder
    Jul 29, 2012 - 3:27AM

    The nations which require women to cover up like sad black crows in public in their own countries should not even be allowed to compete in the Olympics in the first place. They should be banned as South Africa was. during apartheid. The gender-based apartheid and unequal treatment of women should not be tolerated. Until they are willing to adhere to a philosophy of basic human rights and the written ethos of the modern Olympics they should stay at home. Those who pander to misogynistic conservatives are equally to blame for the abuse and exploitation of women across the world. Recommend

  • Ali
    Jul 29, 2012 - 2:15PM

    @Muhammad hassan. You are behaving like a true liberal fascist, who likes to force his own theory on other people. These Saudi team ladies have the right to practise there belief and religion and no body should stop them from doing so.


  • trtk
    Jul 29, 2012 - 5:05PM

    @Eileen Calder…. Should the IOC also disallow all Christian athletes as well as their Nuns cover themselves up like ‘sad black crows’ as you said ? Everyone’s free to practice their religion then why do you want the muslims to give up theirs?Recommend

  • Muhammad Hassan
    Jul 31, 2012 - 12:23PM

    @Stone: Do as you will with your beliefs, but don’t force them down other people’s throats; this country isn’t your personal property. As for Arabs being better than us, will you please car to elaborate? What are the Arabs without oil? You have to look no further than Yemen to see what the Middle Eastern states would be like without oil wealth.

    @Ali: I’m not forcing anything on anyone. And if you talk about the right to practice your culture, then you shouldn’t get hyper if the British ban a hijabi from participating because the hijab is not a part of their culture and the Olympics are being held in their country.


  • stone
    Jul 31, 2012 - 8:49PM

    @ Muhammad Hassan….. Firstly remove the Muhammad before your name as he was Arab and Muslims feel proud to be related to Arabs anyhow. Then change your name as it is also Arabic. You should name yourself from some European transcendent.
    As for your question of elaboration.. Arabs(Particular of Hijaz region) are not thirsty of oil and are not living on it. They have the blessing of Prophet S.A.W. that they will never face hunger and scarcity of any thing.
    And yes, Pakistan is my country. people with crap in their minds and on their tongues against Muslims don’t deserve to live in an Islamic country!!Recommend

  • Muhammad Hassan
    Aug 1, 2012 - 3:33PM

    @Stone: Please study pre-oil era history before you comment here. They were never more than nomadic tribes, first the slaves of the Ottomans and than the British. The people of Yemen aren’t very blessed now, are they?

    You say the Saudis aren’t living off oil? Well my friend, the petroleum sector makes up 45% of budget revenues, 55% of the GDP and a whooping 90% of exports. Sounds like they really are living off oil.

    Second, it not for you to pass judgement on people’s names.

    And third, I can just as easily say that people like you, with CRAP in THEIR minds do not deserve to live in a country created by a secular leader.



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