Riyadh: Saudi Arabia will allow its women athletes to compete in the Olympics for the first time.
According to The BBC, a statement from the Saudi embassy in London said the country`s Olympic Committee will ``oversee the participation of women athletes who can qualify``.
Saudi officials said there could be scope for women to compete, if they would be dressed ``to preserve their dignity``.
In practice, this means to dress modestly with loose-fitting garments and ``a sports hijab``, a scarf covering the hair, but not the face.
The decision to allow women to compete in the Olympics is a huge step for the country, overturning deep-rooted opposition from those opposed to any public role for women.
The only female competitor from the country for the Olympics is showjumper Dalma Rushdi Malhas. The decision will end recent speculation as to whether the entire Saudi team could have been disqualified on grounds of gender discrimination. The public participation of women in sport is still opposed by many Saudi religious conservatives.