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London 2012: Still no decision on eligibility for Saudi women

The IOC hopes that Saudi Arabia will enter their first female competitor at this summer’s Olympics, but discussions are ongoing.

Image: Getty Images

JACQUES ROGGE SAYS the International Olympic Committee is yet to reach a solution to allow Saudi Arabian women to compete at London 2012.

The rulers of ultra-conservative Islamic state Saudi Arabia are strongly opposed to female athletes competing in this year’s summer games.

Saudi Arabia, Brunei and Qatar are the only countries to have never entered women in Olympic competition.

Qatar and Brunei intend to do so at this year’s event in Britain and the IOC, under pressure from human rights groups, are in dialogue with Saudi Arabia in a bid to end their hardline stance.

“We are continuing to discuss with them, and the athletes are trying (to qualify),” IOC president Rogge said.

“We would hope they will qualify in due time for the games.”

The Saudi national Olympic committee president Prince Nawaf was quoted last month stating his opposition to the prospect of entering female athletes.

Rights group have advocated allowing female Saudi athletes to compete under a neutral IOC flag, but Rogge is reluctant to entertain the prospect.

“It’s not an easy situation,” he said. ”There is a commitment. We’re working steadily with them to find a good solution. There is absolutely no need to consider the possibility of the participation of Saudi women under the IOC flag.”

Rogge also declined to discuss the possibility of applying sanctions to Saudi Arabia if the issue is not resolved.

“Wait and see,” he said. ”We do not want to enter into any hypothetical questions.”

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