Lifestyle & Belief

Hijab allowed at London Olympics


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)



Saudi athlete Wojdan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shaherkani has been allowed to wear a hijab while competing in judo in the London Olympics.

Shaherkani was given permission by the International Olympic Committee, International Judo Federation and Saudi officials to wear a hijab, or headscarf, of a specific design, while she fights, according to Reuters. Shaherkani, one of only two Saudi women competing in the London Games, previously said she would only participate in her sport if she was allowed to wear the hijab, and judo officials had refused, saying it would be dangerous.

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The 16-year-old athlete had signed an agreement with Saudi Olympic officials that she can compete only if she wears "correct and approved" clothing that "sticks to Islamic principles," reported CNN. This is the first time every nation participating in the Olympics has sent both men and women to compete. Saudi Arabia was the final country to announce it would send female athletes.

Shaherkani attended the judo action on Monday with her father, Ali Shaherkani, who said his daughter does not speak English and kept his arm tightly wrapped around her shoulders, according to The Wall Street Journal. At the time, he was not sure if she would be allowed to compete.

"I need my daughter to play," he told the Journal. "We are hoping to make new history for Saudi's women."

Shaherkani is scheduled to compete on Friday, said CNN. Middle distance runner Sarah Attar is the only other woman on the 19-member Saudi team.