Global Politics

Saudi Arabia Allows Women Athletes to Compete in London 2012 Olympics

Saudi_Arabia_Dalma_Rushdi-e1340736715211.jpg

Dalma Rushdi H Malhas of Saudi Arabia competes on Flash Top Hat during the jumping individual round at the Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Games August 24, 2010. REUTERS/SPH-SYOGOC/Handout (SINGAPORE - Tags: SPORT EQUESTRIANISM OLYMPICS) FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS

Credit:

REUTERS

Monday, the Saudi Arabian embassy in London annouced that the kingdom will allow its women athletes to compete in the Olympics for the first time.

Player utilities

This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.

The one likely female candidate, 20-year-old equestrian Dalma Malhas, took home the bronze in the 2010 Youth Olympics.

However, the Saudi Olympic Committee has not yet confirmed its sponsorship of women athletes, according to Laura Bashraheel, a journalist with the Saudi Gazette in Jeddah.

She doubts the validity of the embassy's statement, and along with new reports that Malhas has dropped out due to an injury to her horse, it remains unclear whether Saudi women will actually compete in London this summer.

"There's nothing official yet," she says. "That's the problem… there's no official statement, which makes all of us really confused."

The Saudi Olympic Committee's last official statement concerning the participation of women was in April. It said that women may compete, but will not be sponsored by the government, according to Bashraheel.

This means that women "can compete under the Saudi flag but [are] not part of the Saudi Olympic Committee; not officially sent from Saudi Arabia, which makes it very complicated," she says.