Women fighters back Saudi hijab decision

Women fighters back Saudi hijab decision

LONDON - Reuters
Women fighters back Saudi hijab decision

Saudi Arabia’s athletes, including Wojdan Shaherkani (C), parade during the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 Olympics at the London Olympic Stadium. AP photo

Top female judo fighters yesterday backed the decision to allow a Saudi athlete to compete at the Olympic Games wearing an Islamic headscarf, saying it would not bother them and would be good for women’s sports.

Teenager Wojdan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shaherkani, one of the first two Saudi women chosen to compete at an Olympics, had threatened to pull out after the sport’s governing body said she could not compete wearing a hijab because it was too dangerous.

After days of deliberation, a compromise was struck on Monday between judo chiefs, Olympic bosses and Saudis meaning she will now take part in the women’s heavyweight section tomorrow.

“I think it’s no problem for us, it might be a problem for her. But I can’t see why she shouldn’t have it,” said Urska Zolnir, who won gold in the women’s 63-kg judo.

The appearance in London of Shaherkani and fellow 800-meter runner Sarah Attar came after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) pressed Saudi Arabia to end its ban on female participation.