Female Saudi competitor not allowed to wear headscarf at Olympics

Published On July 26, 2012 | By Jill Saftel

One of Saudi Arabia’s first ever two female Olympians has made news Thursday morning among reports the female judo competitor, called a judoka, will not be allowed to compete with her headscarf.

According to a report from the Associated Press, Marius Vizer, president of the International Judo Federation, announced at a press conference Thursday morning that Wojdan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shahrkhani will compete without a hijab.

Judo officials said there were security and safety issues at play, considering strangleholds and chokeholds are an integral part of judo, which could be complicated and made dangerous by a hijab.

Saudi leaders had originally agreed to send women to the Games under the condition they were allowed to compete with their headscarves. The Saudi women are also not permitted to mix with men and must be accompanied by a male guardian while in London.

Shahrkhani was given a special invitation to the Olympics as part of the International Olympic Committee’s desire to have all nations send both male and female athletes to the Olympics this year. Saudi Arabia was the final country to agree to send female athletes, but is one of three countries sending female athletes to the Games for the first time this year. The other two countries who are sending female athletes to the Olympics for the first time are Qatar and Brunei.

Want to know more about Olympic Judo? Read our Judo primer!

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About The Author

Jill studies journalism at Northeastern University, covers Hockey East for College Hockey News and is the sports editor for The Huntington News. You can follow her on Twitter at @jillsaftel, just don't ask her to choose between hockey and baseball, it's impossible.