They had to agree in principle, or risk being shut out of the Olympics. But this can still find many ways of not happening.
There are only a few months before the London Olympics, and since Saudi Arabia has never had the intention of fielding female athletes, they have not actively trained female athletes for international competition. Above all, at any moment, Sharia and accompanying standards of gender segregation, “modesty,” and so forth may be invoked to squash the whole deal, or at least make matters as difficult as possible.
Riyadh (AsiaNews / Agencies) – For the first time in the history of the Olympics, women athletes from Saudi Arabia may be able to compete in London, reports the influential and usually well informed Al-Hayat, according to which a decision in this regard has been made by the Interior minister and Crown Prince of the Kingdom, Nayef bin Abdulaziz,.
The newspaper says, Nayef has given his consent for participation in sports that “meet the standards of decency and as long as the women do not contradict Islamic law.”
The announcement comes at a time when King Abdullah is committed to achieve a slow but gradual modernization of the culture of his country. Significantly, yesterday pro-government Arab News published an editorial entitled “Saudi women are in urgent need of equal rights.”…
It is unlikely to be groundbreaking, however. As one commenter on the editorial noted, Arab News largely caters to an expat audience. It is also published in English, further limiting its audience.