BERLIN, March 19 Saudi Arabia looks set to send
women athletes to an Olympics for the first time later this
The Saudis, Brunei and Qatar have never previously included
females in their teams and the International Olympic Committee
(IOC) is eager to see that situation change in London in July.
The IOC said on Monday that Saudi Arabian Olympic Committee
officials presented a list of potential candidates for the
London Games during a meeting at its headquarters in Lausanne
"After the assessment of the level of each athlete by the
IOC and the international federations concerned, a formal
proposal will be submitted to the next meeting of the IOC
executive board in Quebec City in May," it said in a statement.
"The IOC is confident Saudi Arabia is working to include
women athletes and officials at the Olympic Games in London in
accordance with the rules of the international federations."
Human Rights Watch criticised Olympic organisers last month
for what it said was their tolerance of gender discrimination by
the Gulf Arab states of Saudi Arabia and Qatar, as well as the
tiny southeast Asian nation of Brunei.
Qatar, bidding to host the 2020 Games, said last month it
would send female athletes to the Olympics for the first time.
The IOC has offered Qatar wildcard invitations for two
female athletes to compete in London, swimmer Nada Arkaji and
sprinter Noor al-Malki.
Sport in the patriarchal society of Saudi Arabia has long
been reserved as an activity for men, with stadiums prohibiting
(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann, editing by Tony Jimenez)