I recently wrote about Women Olympic Games Pioneers in which I discussed some of the early women participants at the Olympics, and the slow move to equality in women’s participation at the Olympic Games. There have been some great moves towards creating the opportunity for women to compete in the same sports as the men, with the inclusion of women’s boxing now completing the set so there are women’s events in all sports on the program. This is a great thing, but the reality is that there are huge barriers for women to even compete in any sport in some countries of the world, let alone the Olympic Games.
Up until now, three Muslim countries have never before sent a female athlete to compete at the Olympics: Qatar, Brunei, and Saudi Arabia. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) Charter clearly promotes equality: “The practice of sport is a human right. Every individual must have the possibility of practising sport, without discrimination of any kind.” However, the IOC seems to be doing very little to support the women competitors from these countries.
Each of these countries has made comments that suggest there may be sending some female participants to London, but we will have to wait and see. If Qatar is serious about their bid for the 2020 Summer Olympics, they need to send a clear message to the IOC, as it seems the IOC is not sending any clear messages back at them.