London: The London Olympics will be first ever games in history when women athletes from every country will compete in the games, including longtime holdout Saudi Arabia, the International Olympic Committee announced.
“The IOC has been striving to ensure a greater gender balance at the Olympic Games, and today’s news can be seen as an encouraging evolution,” a newspaper quoted President Jacques Rogge, as saying in a statement.
The historic announcement hinged on Saudi Arabia, which said last month it would allow female Olympians after months of talks with the International Olympic Committee. Fifteen years ago, 26 countries had not sent women; four years ago, that number had dwindled to three. Brunei and Qatar will also send female athletes to the London Games for the first time.
Saudi Arabia has, however, cautioned its female Olympians to dress modestly, not mix with men and stay with a male guardian during the games, reflecting strict rules in the highly religious country.