Saudi Arabia will allow female athletes to compete in the Olympics for the first time, according to BBC News.

In a statement from the Saudi Embassy in London, the country's Olympic Committee says it will "oversee participation of women athletes who can qualify."

The decision ends recent speculation as to whether the entire Saudi team could have been disqualified for gender discrimination.

Many Saudi religious conservatives still strongly oppose women's sport. Saudi Arabia has almost no public tradition of women participating in sport.

The BBC also reports that Saudi officials say with the Games now just a few weeks away, the only female competitor at Olympic standard is showjumper Dalma Rushdi Malhas.

However, Saudi officials added that there may be an opportunity for others to compete and that if successful, they would be dressed "to preserve their dignity." Such dress likely means modest, loose-fitting garments and "a sports hijab", which is a scarf covering the hair but not the face.