Alexander Green argues in the National Student that until Saudi Arabia improve rights for women, they should be banned from the Olympic games:
On Sunday evening, it was announced that – after coming under mounting international pressure – Saudi Arabia would be allowing women to compete in the London 2012 Olympic Games. Via the Saudi Embassy in London, officials announced that the nation’s Olympic committee would “oversee participation of women athletes who can qualify”.
It was considered a big step forward for the Islamic Kingdom, with the nation’s key religious clerics adamantly opposed to such a measure, and paraded as a breakthrough for human rights with Qatar and Brunei also sending their first female athletes to the games. The International Olympic Committee also took a sigh of relief. The organisation had been pressing Saudi Arabia to allow women to compete for many months and would end speculation whether the entire team should be disqualified.
Yet, it was a short lived victory. A day later, it turned out why the Kingdom had reversed its outdated stance; Saudi Arabia’s only real contender to feature in the Olympics had been a 20-year old equestrian – Dalma Rushdi Malhas – who had failed to qualify for the games.
The decision then was nothing but a PR smokescreen; a decision taken by the Saudi National Olympic Committee to appease the IOC with the knowledge that the change in policy would not be implemented. It was purely a token effort proposed to manifest itself as progress. Indeed, nothing has changed with the Kingdom set to be the last and only nation never to name a woman competitor.
Full story here.