A few weeks ago I excitedly reported that the last three dominoes – that is, countries that exclude women from Olympic competition but not men – had fallen. Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Brunei had all decided to let women go to the Olympics.
Turns out I got a little too excited. Yesterday, it was reported that no Saudi women have qualified for the Games. Probably because no women were allowed to participate in qualifying events. Per the AP:
The story in the pan-Arab daily newspaper Al-Sharq al-Awsat — an important media tool for Saudi rulers — said Saudi male athletes have qualified to compete in track, equestrian and weightlifting at the games that start in less than three weeks.
There is no “female team taking part in the three fields,” the report said Sunday, quoting an unidentified Saudi official. He said no female athlete had taken part in qualifying events in Saudi Arabia, which severely restricts women in public life.
The AP reports that IOC President Jacques Rogge “remains optimistic” that Saudi Arabia will still send some women athletes to London. Here’s hoping Qatar and Brunei don’t pull the same stunt.