PanARMENIAN.Net – Saudi Arabia will send two female athletes to the London Olympics, two officials with knowledge of the decision said Thursday, July 12, the Associated Press reported.
The officials spoke to AP on condition of anonymity because the decision hasn’t been publicly announced. They said the Saudi women will compete in judo and track and field.
The Gulf kingdom will also include female officials in their Olympic delegation for the first time, one of the officials said.
Qatar and Brunei, two other countries that have never sent any female athletes to the Olympics, are also including women on their teams for the London Games.
With the Saudis now following suit, it means all national teams competing in the games will include female athletes for the first time in Olympic history.
About 10,500 athletes are expected to compete in London, representing more than 200 national Olympic committees.
Saudi Arabia has been under pressure from the International Olympic Committee and human-rights groups to include women athletes. The IOC has been in negotiations with the Saudis for months on securing the participation of women.
Qatar announced on Wednesday that one of its female athletes, shooter Bahiya al-Hamad, will be the country’s flag-bearer at the opening ceremony in London on July 27.
Saudi Arabia had been giving mixed messages about sending women to the games.
The Saudi Embassy in London said two weeks ago that women who qualify will be allowed to compete. But a report in a Saudi-owned newspaper earlier this week said that no female athletes have qualified for the Olympics and no women will be included on the team competing in equestrian, track and field and weightlifting.