Do the Olympics Accept Gender Apartheid?
At the Olympics, race or religion is irrelevant. Or so they say. Yet once again, Saudi Arabia has refused to bring a female team to compete in the London games. Although Saudi laws are derived from Islamic laws, there is nothing in the Qur'an or Sunnah that bans women from participating in sports, they will not be permitted to compete. After sending men only teams since 1972, it's well past time to disqualify Saudi Arabia from the race.
The call for exclusion is not without precedent or law. In 2000, Afghanistan was barred from the Sydney Olympics, in part because of its treatment of women. Apartheid kept South Africa from the Games, and the Olympic Charter precludes discrimination.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) is calling on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to put the screws on Saudi Arabia, one of just three countries that have yet to field any women for the Olympic Games. The other two countries, Brunei and Qatar, have either vowed to send women to London this summer or are struggling to send anyone to the Olympics. Saudi Arabia has no excuse.
A recent report by Human Rights Watch found that despite pledges to open up sports to women, the Saudi government continues to deny their right to practice physical education in schools. The report also criticized a perceived "tolerance" by Olympic organizers towards gender discrimination by Saudi Arabia as well as Qatar and the tiny Southeast Asian nation of Brunei.
Any nation that does not recognize this basic fact of allowing women to participate does not deserve a spot on an international stage of excellence, and should stay home until they make the proper reforms. Until then, don't roll out the welcome mat.
Another thing, leave the abaya home as well, no one should be forced to compete wearing a body bag.