By JoJo Rennie
It was reported last week that there is a considerable chance that women from all participating nations will appear in the London 2012 Olympics for the first time ever. Exciting news indeed. According to theage.com it is Jacques Rogge (president of the IOC) who has been a prominent figure in “championing the milestone”. He believes the Saudi Arabian government will allow women to compete after there has been much debate and pressure on the issue. It is unclear how many will travel, and in what sports they will participate- but it is certainly progress in a country that is not known for celebrating female athletes.
It is not just Saudi Arabia that have denied female competitors in previous years; 26 nations fielded male only participants as recently as the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. Brunei and the 2022 World Cup hosts Qatar also excluded female participants at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.
If Qatar are a nation that has the capability of hosting a major sporting event then it needs to show that it encompasses the values of sport that are not just prevalent in the (male) footballing world, but echo throughout all sports: tolerance, respect, fair play and equality. It will be a fantastic occasion if women from all nations are included in London 2012, but it already feels like a long time coming.