With the Olympics looming over London, a new report released by Human Rights Watch tells us that women in Saudi Arabia are still banned from taking part in competitive sport events. It doesn’t just end here; Saudi state run schools do not offer physical education classes to girls. In 2009, the government went a step further and shut down swimming pools and running tracks that were open to women. Obesity rates – which lead to chronic health problems – have continued to increase amongst Saudi Arabian women. The excuse has been a religious one; clerics have claimed that sports take women away from their home and force them to wear inappropriate clothing.
The International Olympic Committee Charter denounces any discrimination on the basis of race and gender and has previously banned South Africa and Afghanistan on the grounds of racial and gender bias.
It is no news to anyone that Saudi Arabia has long implemented policies which systematically represses women but the question remains will the Committee bar Saudi from the Olympics?