Saudi Arabia announced on Sunday that it will reverse its ban and allow women to compete in the Olympic Games. Saudi Arabia’s decision means that this summer’s Olympics in London will be the first in which every participating country permits women to compete. Saudi Arabia was under international pressure to reverse its ban on women competitors, following the decision this year by Qatar and Brunei to also allow women to compete for the first time.
In a statement, the country’s London embassy said, “The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia wished to reaffirm its support for the sublime meanings reflected by Olympic Games and the cherished values of excellence, friendship and respect that they represent.”
It is likely that only one woman from Saudi Arabia will qualify for the games this year, with the opening ceremonies only a few weeks away. Dalma Rushdi Malhas, an equestrian showjumper, will likely qualify. Malhas won a bronze medal in the Youth Olympic Games in 2010, though she was not sent to compete by her country, but instead was invited by the International Olympic Committee to compete as an individual.
CNN 6/25/12; Reuters 6/25/12; Wall Street Journal 6/25/12; BBC News 6/24/12