POSTED: July 12th 2012
Rogge Legacy: IOC attains historic all inclusion for women athletes at the Games
LAURA WALDEN / Sports Features Communications
July 12 – The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has confirmed now that history will be made as all the nations participating in the Olympic Games in London will be bringing women team members.
The women were invited to the Games by the IOC setting a new benchmark for female participation. In Atlanta 1996 there were still 26 National Olympic Committees (NOCs) that came to the Games without women. In Beijing 2008, there were still three NOCs: Qatar, Brunei Darussalem and Saudi Arabia that had no female participants. Now that is a part of the past.
Saudi Arabia made the July 9th deadline by adding two women to their roster: Wodjan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shahrkhani (judo, + 78kg) and Sarah Attar (athletics, 800m). Saudi Arabia joins Brunei Darussalam and Qatar to break the gender barrier.
IOC chief, Dr. Jacques Rogge, who can now add this achievement to his legacy said, “This is very positive news and we will be delighted to welcome these two athletes in London in a few weeks’ time.
“The IOC has been working very closely with the Saudi Arabian Olympic Committee, and I am pleased to see that our continued dialogue has come to fruition. The IOC has been striving to ensure a greater gender balance at the Olympic Games, and today’s news can be seen as an encouraging evolution.
“With Saudi Arabian female athletes now joining their fellow female competitors from Qatar and Brunei Darussalam, it means that by London 2012 every National Olympic Committee will have sent women to the Olympic Games.”
Attar was thrilled at the news and is currently in training at San Diego in the USA and said, “A big inspiration for participating in the Olympic Games is being one of the first women for Saudi Arabia to be going. It’s such a huge honour and I hope that it can really make some big strides for women over there to get more involved in sport.”
Brunei Darussalam has entered Maziah Mahusin (athletics), and Qatar has entered Nada Arkaji (swimming), Noor Al-Malki (athletics), Aya Magdy (table tennis) and Bahiya Al-Hamad (shooting). Qatar then made an even bigger statement by nominating Bahiya Al-Hamad to be the flag bearer in the opening ceremony.
Al-Hamad said, “I’m overwhelmed to have been asked to carry the Qatari flag at the Opening Ceremony. It’s a truly historic moment for all athletes.”
Also to note this year women’s boxing is on the program for London 2012 making all the sports having disciplines for both men and women.
United Nations Secretary-General on Sport for Development and Peace, Wilfried Lemke, also weighed in with a statement:
“I warmly welcome the recent decision made by Saudi Arabia to send female athletes to London to compete in the 2012 Summer Olympic Games.
This decision, following a similar one by Brunei Darussalam and Qatar, marks a significant progress in realizing the right of all to take part in physical and sporting activities, and hence achieving greater gender equality in sport.
The UN family, the Olympic Movement and their partners have long joined their forces to promote the participation of women in sports activities and competitions, as well as in management and leadership roles. This is for instance reflected in the fact that today, at the Olympics, participation of athletes is almost equally balanced between women and men.
Women and girls still face today a great deal of discrimination and marginalization in all sectors of society around the world. This saddening reality applies to the world of sport, despite the remarkable advances made in that area over the past decades.
The practice of sport and physical activity, at all levels, can have immense benefits for individuals, communities and societies. No one should, on the basis of gender, race, ability, age, culture or religious considerations, be denied access to sport and miss on the positive effects its practice can bring.
Decisions such as the one taken today by the Saudi Arabian authorities definitely set a positive example and bring us gradually closer to the realization of a more equitable future, on and off the field of play.”
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