It seems that after some consideration (or not) Saudi Arabian officials, despite some positive encouragement from the IOC, have decided not to send women–or even a woman–to the Olympic Games this summer in London.
The king of gender equality himself–Jacques Rogge, IOC president–nicely asked for some more gender equality worldwide, pointing particularly to Qatar, Brunei, and Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia is still holding out, sending some kind of enigmatic message about women who live outside the country possibly participating. But this would probably not be as part of the official Saudi delegation and only happen if the IOC invited them–as they did when they asked a female equestrian (the woman who many thought would be going to London as part of the team) to a junior Olympics event.
I am not saying that if the IOC and Rogge were better role models, things would have been different; or that the history of gender inequity in the Olympics is an excuse for the Saudis to hide behind.
The Saudi Arabian government has taken a very active role in preventing women from participating in sports. Women are barred from the country’s many sports clubs and most women’s gyms have been shut down.
Now–what will the IOC do? Discrimination is a no-no according to the Olympic charter. Will the IOC bar all Saudi athletes from participating?