Agreement allows Saudi judoka to compete

Published July 31, 2012

| Sports Network

Saudi judoka Wojdan Shaherkani, whose participation in the London Olympics was in jeopardy after she was told not to wear a hijab, will compete in the games after all.

The International Judo Federation and Saudi Arabian Olympic Committee agreed on a solution to ensure her participation, a statement from the IJF said.

"Working with the IOC a proposal was approved by all parties," the statement said. "The solution agreed guarantees a good balance between safety and cultural considerations."

The IJF's statement did not say what the solution was, but a spokesperson for the Saudi Olympic Committee told CNN that Shaherkani could wear the headscarf during matches. The spokesperson added that Shaherkani signed an agreement that she would compete only if she wears approved clothing that complies with Islamic principles.

Last week, IJF president Marius Vizer said Shaherkani must fight "in the spirit of judo and according to the principles of judo, without a hijab." The decision was made partly because of safety concerns, reports said.

But the decision also cast into doubt her ability to take part in the Olympics, because women are required to wear the hijab in Saudi Arabia.

Shaherkani is one of two women from the country at these Olympics, the other being 800-meter runner Sarah Attar. They are the first Saudi women to compete at the Olympics, and Saudi Arabia was the last participating country to never have sent a woman to the games.

Shaherkani is competing in the over-78 kilogram category, which will be contested Aug. 3. She drew Puerto Rico's Melissa Mojica in her first match.

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