Wodjan Shaherkani’s participation in the London 2012 Games had been in doubt after the International Judo Federation said she needed to remove the head scarf for her match. … She and teammate Sarah Attar, the kingdom’s first ever female Olympic competitors, have both signed agreements agreeing to compete only in kit that ‘sticks to Islamic principles,’ Ms Baker told CNN. The decision comes as the inclusion of female athletes for the first time ever in the Saudi Olympic team has prompted a heated reaction among hardliners in the oil-rich Middle Eastern state. [Daily Mail]
WHY SHOULD A WOMAN be allowed to compete in an Olympic event, regardless of country, if she’s not up to the standards of an Olympian? Would such dispensation be allowed for a man?
Or is this a good thing? Saudi Arabia doesn’t allow women to watch, let alone compete in sports, so perhaps this should be seen as a sign of some sort of incremental progress of some sort, though I can’t name what type at the moment.
On another plane of debate entirely are competitors who may be sympathetic to Shahrkhani’s plight, but say she never should have been allowed to compete in the first place because she is not nearly at the level of the other Olympians ““ a blue belt in which everyone else owns a high-level black belt. One former medalist called her a novice, and another competitor warned that judo fighters are not trained to go easy.
Some have also voiced concern that the hijab ““ if not sufficiently form-fitting ““ could lead to choking, or even offer Shahrkhani a competitive advantage, though one she is presumably not skilled enough to take much advantage of.
It all depends on if you believe the notion that the Olympics are an amateur competition created to bring countries together.
What is Olympism?
The three values of Olympism are excellence, friendship and respect. They constitute the foundation on which the Olympic Movement builds its activities to promote sport, culture and education with a view to building a better world.
So, it’s not about professionalism or ability if you look at the Olympic charter and the definition of Olympism. However, as we see the athletes today, many are professionals, gaining sponsors, endorsements and other deals, though only “official” Olympic corporations can be recognized.
It’s all very contorted, a bastardized version of the original intent.
So, having a Saudi woman, wearing the modified hijab and being held to lower standards, may seem like progress to some, but to many it’s somewhere between a joke and blasphemy.