|Training in vain - there will be no Saudi women at London 2012|
On 6 April, I posted on the decision made by Saudi Arabia's National Olympic Committee president Prince Nawaf bin Faisal not to endorse female participation in Saudi's Olympic team (see Saudi Olympic team - only men aloud). Prince Nawaf's decision provoked a strong, negative reaction from a range of NGOs globally. The International Olympic Committee were asked to consider imposing sanctions against the ultra-conservative kingdom.
Today I happened across an article on the Daily Mail website which provides the concluding chapter to this little saga. In the article, the Mail reported that:
"Having discussed the issue in Quebec yesterday, the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) talks resulted in them not imposing any sanctions on the Middle Easterners"
In other words, despite the fact that Saudi Arabia's decision to exclude their own women from taking part in the Olympic Games (which directly contravenes the fourth, sixth and seventh fundamental principles of the Olympic Charter to which all participating countries are supposedly bound), the International Olympic Committee (IOC) have decided to take no action.
Whilst this is not at all surprising, it is a great shame. The IOC's decision serves as a reminder of how hard it is (ignoring the multiple written and verbal proclamations to the contrary) to uncouple the Olympic Games from the forces of international politics. Saudi Arabia is a vital western ally. Jacques Rogge and his leadership would not be thanked by their respective governments for taking action that could potentially jeopardise the special relationship that the closed Kingdom shares with the west.
So yet again, the acronym KSA will not appear during any women's Olympic events this summer in London. If there is any hope of seeing female representation from Saudi Arabia in Rio 2016, it will be due to reforms towards women's policies from within the Kingdom rather than any intervention from the IOC. For the time being Saudi sport (like so many things in Saudi Arabia) remains a man's world.