Saudi woman told ‘no hijab’ for Olympics judo

Saudi judo competitor Wodjan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shaherkani

Kingdom’s first female competitor will not be able to wear Islamic headscarf in London

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Saudi Arabia’s female judo competitor will not be able to wear a hijab when she fights at the London Olympics, the sport’s chief has said.

Wodjan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shaherkani, one of the first two female athletes sent to the Olympics by the gulf kingdom, will not wear the Islamic headscarf when she competes in the women’s heavyweight tournament on August 3.

“She will fight according to the principle and spirit of judo, so without a hijab,” International Judo Federation president Marius Vizer said.

The teenager has been told she must step onto the mat with her head uncovered.

The decision is likely to cause controversy in Saudi Arabia, where female participation in sports has long been a controversial issue.

But judo applies strict safety rules and any covering on the head is deemed to present a risk to the fighter’s health.

Saudi Arabia only agreed to send a women’s team to London on condition that their two athletes respect a strict dress code.

The country’s most senior sports official Prince Nawaf bin Faisal previously told local daily Al-Jazirah the two athletes would be allowed to compete as long as they will be “wearing suitable clothing that complies with sharia.”

American-raised 800m runner Sarah Attar is the second woman in the Saudi squad in London.

Shaherkani has only been involved in judo for two years and is not even a black belt.

She will fight Puerto Rico’s Melissa Mojica, ranked 13 in the world, in the first round.

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