Today, the IOC announced that two Saudi Arabian female athletes, Sarah Attar and Wodjan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shahrkhan, qualified to participate in the 2012 Olympic Games in London. This comes one month after Saudi Arabia announced that it would reverse its ban on women competing in the Olympic Games.
The country was under international pressure to reverse the ban earlier this year, after Qatar and Brunei made the decision to allow women to compete for the first time. However, earlier this week, it did not look like Saudi Arabia would be sending any women to the games, regardless of the lift of the ban.
Attar will compete in the 800m race and Shahrkhani will enter the Judo competition. Attar stated, “A big inspiration for participating in the Olympic Games is being one of the first women for Saudi Arabia to be going. It’s such a huge honor and I hope that it can really make some big strides for women over there to get more involved in sport.”
This will be the first year that every participating country will send female athletes to compete in the games. According to the New York Times, 26 countries failed to send any women to the Olympics in 1996. This year the United States will also be making feminist history by sending more women than men to the games for the first time.