Lifestyle & Belief

Saudi judo competitor to withdraw from Olympics if hijab banned


Female Saudi judo athlete Wojdan Shaherkani arrives at Heathrow airport in preparation for the 2012 London Olympic Games on July 25, 2012. (Photo credit should read MARWAN NAAMANI/AFP/GettyImages)



One of Saudi Arabia's first two female Olympians may withdraw from the judo competition in London if she can't wear her Islamic headscarf during bouts.

Wojdan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shaherkani, 16, is scheduled to begin competing on Friday, BBC News reported.

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Earlier this month, Saudi Arabian officials said the country's female athletes would have to obey Islamic dress code, which includes a hijab, long sleeves and pants, according to Reuters.

But International Judo Federation president Marius Vizer said Shaherkani would have to fight without a hijab last week, sparking conflict.

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Her father Ali told Saudi Arabia's al-Watan newspaper that his daughter "will not compete in the Judo Games on 3 August if the committee insists that she removes her hijab."

Saudi and international Olympic officials met late into the night Sunday with International Judo Federation representatives to try to resolve the case, but failed to break the deadlock as of Monday morning, CNN reported.

"There is nothing to say it is finalized yet," Saudi National Olympic Committee representative Razen Baker told CNN. "She is here, and we want her to compete."

Shaherkani and 800m runner Sarah Attar are Saudi Arabia's two female competitors in the London Games.