Saudi Arabia will send female athletes to the London Olympics this summer, ending the ultra-conservative Muslim country’s record of not doing so.
The decision, announced Thursday by the IOC, means every country competing in the London games will include women athletes for the first time in history.
The two female Saudi Arabia Olympic competitors are judo athlete Wodjan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shahrkhani and 800-meter runner Sarah Attar.
The duo, who were invited by the International Olympic Committee, were entered by the Saudi Arabian Olympic Committee by the July 9 deadline.
“This is very positive news and we will all be delighted to welcome these two athletes in London in a few weeks time,” IOC President Jacques Rogge said.
“With Saudi Arabian female athletes now joining their fellow female competitors from Qatar and Brunei, it means that by London 2012 every national Olympic committee will have sent women to the Olympic Games,” he added.Saudi Arabia had been under increasing pressure from the IOC and human rights groups to include women athletes. The IOC has been in negotiations with the Saudis for months on securing the participation of women.
Qatar and Brunei, two other countries that have never sent any female athletes to the Olympics, are also including women on their teams in 2012.
About 10,500 athletes are expected to compete in London, representing more than 200 national Olympic committees. It should be great.