No talking to men: Saudi rules for Women at Olympics

Jul 03, 2012, 07:49 IST | Agencies

Saudi sportswomen, who have been given the go-ahead to compete in the Olympics for the first time in London later this month, must respect the ultra-conservative kingdom's rules, its sports chief said in remarks published on Monday.

All women competitors must dress modestly, be accompanied by a male guardian and not mix with men during the Games, said Prince Nawaf bin Faisal. Saudi sportswomen may only take part if they do so “wearing suitable clothing that complies with sharia” (Islamic law) and “the athlete’s guardian agrees and attends with her,” he said.

“There must also be no mixing with men during the Games,” he added. “The athlete and her guardian must pledge not to break these conditions,” he said. The Saudi embassy in London issued a statement announcing that Saudi women would be allowed to compete for the first time in this year’s Olympics. The Saudi Olympic Committee will “oversee participation of women athletes who qualify,” it said. Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Brunei are the only three countries never to have sent women athletes to the Olympics. But Qatar had already announced it will send a four-woman team to London.

The issue of women in sport remains extremely sensitive in Saudi Arabia, where women are not even allowed to drive cars and the authorities shut down private gyms for women. Nawaf said that for previous Games “we had no women athletes... But now there are many Saudi female athletes who have expressed to the IOC and international unions their desire to participate.” 

No men at lingerie stores
Women in Saudi Arabia will not be dealing with men anymore while buying undergarment, as the country will soon be enforcing a gender law that will allow only females to work in women's lingerie stores.

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