This was supposed to be a banner year for Saudi Arabia's Olympic team as women were allowed to compete for the first time, but on Monday the Saudi press reported none had qualified for the competition because none had participated in the qualifying events. So once again the kingdom will still send an all-male team.
The Associated Press picked up the report from Sunday's edition of the pan-Arab newspaper Al-Sharq al-Awsat, writing: "It said Saudi men had qualified for track, equestrian, and weightlifting events, but that "There is no 'female team taking part in the three fields," the report said Sunday, quoting an unidentified Saudi official. He said no female athlete had taken part in qualifying events in Saudi Arabia, which severely restricts women in public life."
The one female athlete in the country who realistically could have competed, equestrian Dalma Rushi Malhas, was sidelined two weeks ago when her horse was injured.* The International Herald Tribune's Lara Setrakian wrote that while Saudi Arabia had faced pressure to actually send women to London, "having banned its women and girls from engaging in sports at home, finding one who’s had access to Olympic-level training is a long stretch."
*Correction: An earlier version of this story reported that Dalma herself had been injured. Rather, it was her horse.
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