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Olympics: Saudi girl to compete in judo wearing hijab

last update: July 31, 11:50

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London, 31 July (AKI) - A teenage Saudi girl will take part in the Olympic judo competition after officials ruled she could wear a specially designed Islamic headscarf, or hijab, officials said.

Saudi National Olympic Committee spokeswoman Razan Baker said the International Olympic Committee and the International Judo Federation had agreed an acceptable format for the headscarf to be worn by Wojdan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shaherkani.

“They agreed on a design and she will compete wearing this design,” Razan Baker said late Monday, adding that she did not know how this design looked.

Sixteen-year-old Shaherkani was at the centre of a row in recent days after her father threatened to withdraw her from the Olympic judo event unless she was allowed to wear a headscarf during her matches.

The headscarf is is banned at the Olympics by the sport, for safety reasons.

Shaherkani is one of just two Saudi women athletes who travelled to London after the IOC lobbied the conservative Islamic kingdom to end its refusal to send women to the Games.

Middle distance runner Sarah Attar is the only other woman on the 19-member Saudi team.

Saudi Arabia was the last country to announce that it would send female athletes and a Saudi official said earlier this month they would have to obey Islamic dress codes.

The IOC this year successfully pressed Saudi Arabia and fellow Muslim nations Qatar and Brunei, the last three countries to refuse to send women to the Olympics, to end their bans.

This year is the first time every nation competing in the Olympics is sending women as well as men.

Shaherkani is scheduled to compete Friday in the +78kg category. Her photo on the Saudi team's Olympics website shows her with a scarf that covers her hair but not her face.

There is almost no public tradition of women participating in sport in Saudi Arabia. Officials have found it difficult to find athletes who could meet the minimum qualifying standards.

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