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Bad News, Olympics Fans: No Saudi Women Made the Cut

Illustration for article titled Bad News, Olympics Fans: No Saudi Women Made the Cut

After Saudi Arabia felt some international pressure to send at least some female athletes to London this summer, the pan-Arab daily paper Al-Sharq al-Awsa has reported that not a single Saudi woman has qualified for the Olympics.

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The AP cited a Sunday report in Al-Sharq al-Awsa (apparently a nifty tool for Saudi rulers) that announced there would be no "female team taking part in the three fields" that Saudi men have qualified for — track, equestrian events, and weightlifting. Saudi Arabia could still face sanctions from the International Olympics Committee after the London Games if women are excluded from the country's Olympic team. Two weeks ago, the Saudi Embassy in London said that women who qualified for the Olympics would get to compete, and just a week ago, IOC President Jacques Rogge expressed some premature optimism that Saudi Arabia would send women to the Olympics for the first time ever. Guess we have to wait another four interminable years for the Saudi women to get their shot on the international stage (Rio's probably way more fun than London anyway — no offense, English people).

No Saudi Women Qualified for the Olympics [AP via U.S. News]

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DISCUSSION

gingergetthepopcorn
Ginger, get the popcorn!

Frankly, I'm glad this happened. Sending one tokenized woman would have let Saudi Arabia say, "LOOK, we brought a lady. We are all about equality." This at least calls a spade a spade and we can start working from an honest place.

On the other hand, though I understand the ways in which it can act as a proxy for other equality measures, this is hardly the largest or most difficult issue facing Saudi women today. I feel like this is the new "Saudi women can't drive." It's something for people in the west to get all angry about, but not something so serious (like flogging rape victims, women not being allowed to leave the home or neighborhood without her guardian's permission, or requiring that every female citizen have a male guardian for her entire life) that it would actually make us uncomfortable.