SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) -- Thirteen years after he stood on the podium in Sydney, Lance Armstrong has been stripped of the bronze medal he won at the 2000 Olympics because of his involvement in doping.
The International Olympic Committee sent a letter to Armstrong on Wednesday night asking him to return the medal, just as it said it planned to do last month.
The IOC executive board discussed revoking the medal in December, but delayed a decision until cycling body UCI formally notified Armstrong he had been stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and all results since 1998. He then had 21 days to appeal.
Now that the deadline has expired, the IOC decided to take the medal away. The letter to Armstrong was also sent to the U.S. Olympic Committee, which would collect the medal.
“Having had confirmation from UCI that Armstrong has not appealed the decision to disqualify him from Sydney, we have written to him to ask for the return of the bronze medal,” IOC spokesman Mark Adams told the AP. “We have also written to USOC to inform them of the decision.”
The move was confirmed on the same day that Armstrong’s admission of using performance-enhancing drugs — after years of denials — is to be broadcast in an interview with Oprah Winfrey. The timing of the IOC move, however, was not related to the TV interview.
Two months after winning his second Tour de France title in 2000, Armstrong took bronze in Sydney in the road time trial behind winner and U.S. Postal Service teammate Vyacheslav Ekimov of Russia and Jan Ullrich of Germany.
The IOC opened a disciplinary case in November after a U.S. Anti-Doping Agency report detailed widespread doping by Armstrong and his teammates. The report called it the most sophisticated doping program in sports.
The IOC will not reallocate Armstrong’s bronze medal, just as the UCI decided not to declare any winners for the Tour titles once held by the American. Spanish rider Abraham Olano Manzano, who finished fourth in Sydney, will not be upgraded and the bronze medal placing will be left vacant in Olympic records.
In August, the IOC stripped Tyler Hamilton, a former Armstrong teammate, of his time-trial gold medal from the 2004 Athens Olympics after he admitted to doping. In that case, Ekimov was upgraded to gold.
The IOC is also investigating Levi Leipheimer, a former Armstrong teammate who won the time-trial bronze at the 2008 Beijing Games. The American confessed to doping as part of his testimony against Armstrong in the USADA case.
The IOC is looking into the details of Leipheimer’s admitted doping, including when the cheating took place, before moving to strip his medal. Finishing fourth behind Leipheimer in 2008 was Alberto Contador, the Spaniard who was stripped of the 2010 Tour de France title after testing positive for clenbuterol.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association)– The International Olympic Committee (IOC) will investigate Lance Armstrong's 2000 Olympics bronze medal after the American was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles in the biggest doping scandal to hit the sport.
"The IOC will now immediately start the process concerning the involvement of Lance Armstrong, other riders and particularly their entourages with respect to the Olympic Games and their future involvement with the Games," an IOC official told Reuters on Thursday.
Armstrong, who won a time trial medal at the Sydney Games, was stripped of his 1999-2005 Tour victories last month when the International Cycling Union (UCI) ratified a U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) decision to erase his results from August, 1998.
A USADA report that included testimony from several former team mates against him and themselves, called it the "most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping program that sport has ever seen".
Apart from stripping Armstrong's titles, the UCI also said it was setting up an independent commission to investigate allegations made against the UCI over the Armstrong affair.
"The IOC has taken note of the UCI's decision and welcomes all measures that will shed light on the full extent of this episode and allow the sport to reform and to move forward," the IOC official said.
"We await the findings of the independent commission which will look into the UCI's role, and the recommendations they will make to ensure a healthy future for cycling."
Armstrong, who overcame cancer to dominate the sport, has always denied doping and maintains he never failed a drugs test.
The IOC has an eight-year statute of limitation for changing Olympic results and stripping medals from doping offenders but IOC vice-president Thomas Bach hinted last month there could be ways around the time limit in this case.
"USADA's report has given some pointers that the statute of limitation was interrupted through Lance Armstrong lying about doping," Bach, a lawyer who heads the IOC's juridical commission told Reuters in an interview.
"We will have to examine to see if this is a way we can follow according to Swiss law."
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — The head coach of Russia’s national women’s volleyball team was found hanged in his hotel room in Croatia, local media reported. The team’s lackluster performance at the London Olympics may be behind the alleged suicide.
Sergey Ovchinnikov, 43, was at a training camp in Croatia with his team Dynamo Moscow when the tragedy occurred. According to Croatia’s 24sata news website, Ovchinnikov missed breakfast; when the club’s employees went to his room, they discovered him hanging.
Former Russian coach Vladimir Kuzyutkin speculated the suicide may have been a reaction to the poor showing of the Russian women’s volleyball team at the 2012 London Olympics.
"This is so stupid,” Kuzyutkin told the RSN radio station. “He was my friend, my colleague. No one said a bad word about him. Yes, there was a blunder at the Olympics, well, to hell with it. I don’t know why he couldn’t cope with it.”
Ovchinnikov's team entered the London Games as one of the favorites. But the team missed out on medals, losing 3-2 in the quarterfinals to future Olympic champions Brazil.
The head coach of the men's volleyball team, Vladimir Alekno, confirmed that the London failure was a huge blow for Ovchinnikov.
“He took the Olympics very personally,” Alekno said. “I saw what he was going through and how upset he was after the defeat. He didn’t talk much. Even after victories he was always thinking about something and smoked a lot."
Another reason behind the possible suicide may be health problems. Sovetsky Sport reported that Ovchinnikov had recently been suffering from strong headaches.
The cause of death has not been officially announced, with the Russian embassy in Croatia awaiting confirmation from local authorities.
"The information we have is from Russian sources only,” embassy press secretary Boris Pavlov told Interfax. “Croatian colleagues haven’t reached out for us yet. So the circumstances of the incident aren’t clear to us yet.”
The coach will be buried in the Russian city of Yaroslavl, where his wife and two children live.
Ovchinnikov led the country’s student squad to bronze at the 2011 Universiade, and was tapped to coach the national team the same year.
Under his leadership, Russia progressed to the London Games, earning the first slot in the world qualifiers.—www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — A woman from war-torn Somalia who rose to fame by running in the 200 meters at the Beijing Olympics drowned while trying to reach Europe ahead of the London 2012 Games, it has emerged.
Samia Yusuf Omar died when a boat carrying migrants from Libya to Italy sank in April, according to a report in Italian by the Pubblico blog and other Italian media.
The BBC said the Italian media reports suggest Omar may have been hoping to find a coach in Europe who could help her reach the London Olympics.
Somali track and field legend Abdi Bile, who was world champion in the 1500 meters in 1987, was quoted as comparing Omar’s fate with that of Somali-born British runner Mo Farah, who won two Olympic gold medals at the London Games.
"We are happy for Mo -- he is our pride," he said, according to Pubblico. "But we will not forget Samia."—www.shafaqna.com/english
Source: World News
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — Britain launched its biggest tourism campaign ahead of the 2012 London Olympics back in September 2011 in the hope of a 4.6 million extra tourist inflow in four years.
However, figures show London’s hiked prices, traffic congestion and heightened security scared normal visitors off to the extent that tour operators and booking websites said before the launch of the Games that a third of all hotel rooms for the Olympic period remain unsold.
The British union for tour operators and hoteliers, UK Inbound, said half of its members are reporting lower bookings for the summer.
JacTravel, one of the world’s leading suppliers of online hotel bookings and inbound travel services, said its London bookings have nosedived by 35 percent for July and by 30 percent for August compared with last year.
Trivago which claims access to some 500,000 hotels worldwide, said 36 percent of rooms in the capital remained unsold for the Olympic period while another major hotel booking website, Hotels.com, said in the first week of June that about 4,500 rooms were still on sale for the busiest night of the Olympics’ 17-day schedule on August 4.
Amid the gloomy figures, hoteliers and tour operators admitted when asked by UK Inbound that high costs and availability of accommodation were to blame for the bulk of empty rooms.
Hotel owners in London were widely criticized for trying to cash in on the expected tourist surge during the Olympics.
Hoteliers multiplied their prices after London Organizing Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) block-booked 40,000 of the total 100,000 rooms in London for the Games athletes, officials, sponsors and media.
Telegraph Travel said last year that hotel rooms in London were priced up to 10 times the normal time.
However, after LOCOG returned 20 percent of the rooms, it had booked, in January, the tide turned and hotels were forced to cut prices back.
Even after the cutback, Hotels.com said in the last week of June that average room rates in London between July 27 and August 12, when the Games are held, remained still 75 percent more than 2011 prices at £160 a night.
According to Select Travel, the leading European group of tour companies, its Huntingdon branch in Cambridgeshire now expects its quietest July for 20 years.
"A lot of the agents overseas that would naturally feature the UK in their programs just have not done so … What we have found is that the demand has moved not to other regions of the UK but to other countries in Europe," Select Travel managing director John Martin said.
Earlier, research found that the French who dodged the £10 billion cost of running the Olympics are cashing in on Britain’s tourism plunge with a 50 percent rise in bookings while tourist numbers for Barcelona and Berlin have also soared by 100 percent this summer.
Deputy Mayor of London Kit Malthouse warned early in June that “the last thing” the city needs after the Games is that visitors leave Britain thinking they were ripped off.
“We are conscious some cities have made a mess of it [Olympics]. There have been notable problems with the Games ... London needs to be somewhere people can come to regularly,” he told the Hospitality and Tourism Summit.
But the plunge in tour and hotel bookings in Britain showed people were indeed feeling ripped-off even before the Games started and were avoiding Britain.
Olympics were never the easy money-spinners the governments expected.
Greece splashed out £9.4 billion on the Games in 2004 but it is now struggling to pay it off with Olympic venues gathering dust.
Spain planned to turn Barcelona into one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe after the 1992 Olympics but it even lost some of its regular visitors after the Games.
And all that comes despite the fact that the Games’ ticket pricing and accommodation costs did not represent rip-offs as the London Games turns out to be.
VIP seats in London Olympics are worth a massive £2,012 that is almost four times higher than in the previous Olympics in Beijing where top-prices seats were only £469.
Top ticket prices in London are actually worth more than double the 2004 Athens Olympics (£833) and more than seven times more than the 2010 South Africa World Cup (£280).
Bleak travel figures over costs concerns are not the only factor that undermined British PM David Cameron’s £125-million GREAT tourism campaign to attract 4.6 million more visitors, £2.3 billion in additional visitor-spending, and £1 billion of extra investment over the next four years.
Key other factors are involved including transport problems and security fears. —www.shafaqna.com/english
Source: Press TV
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — The day after London was chosen as the 2012 Olympics host, 52 people were killed in bomb attacks on three subway stations and a bus, but with the Olympic security map now exposed the question remains whether London seriously intends its full army of personnel and military hardware to secure the Games or a show is in the making.
A list of forces and equipment on the ground and in the air is as follows: the Navy’s HMS Bulwark and the force’s largest warship HMS Ocean, Typhoon fighter jets, Apache Helicopters, E-3 Sentinel spy planes, type 101 radars, Rapier missile and radar systems, Star Streak missiles, eagle-eyed surveillance drones, Long-range acoustic device (LRAD) for ear-piercing targeted sound discharges, an 18km electrified security barrier as well as security personnel from the Army, the police, FBI and private security firms who dwarf the whole British military deployment in Afghanistan.
Organizers of the Games say the measures that are part of the biggest peace-time military mobilization Britain has ever seen are necessary for the security of the Games.
Defense Secretary Philip Hammond told BBC on May 13 that “there is no specific threat” targeted at the Games and that the government wants the military to “fade into the background” only to provide “ultimate assurance.”
However, others think the massive deployment of equipment and a total 41,500 forces in London for the Games is a hugely out of proportion and showy display of military power as in wartime – Britain had 68,000 forces in the battle of Waterloo with France – that would have nothing to do with the Olympics security.
An article in The Nation, back in May, grasped the spirit of London ahead of the Games by this observation:
“To be in London, two months before the 2012 Summer Olympics, is to feel a bit like a fish in an aquarium, with people constantly poking at the glass … [where] police vehicles are more prevalent than double-decker buses.”
That said, one should remember there is more evidence against what Hammond claimed to be low visibility security for ultimate reassurance: officers acting as terrorists in a police covert testing of Olympic Park security did manage to smuggle a fake bomb onto the site at least once during the security exercises back in May proving large-scale deployment of forces and equipment does not fend off terror attacks.
Other evidence also followed including what British police described as breach of Olympic exclusion zone by a 24-year-old al-Qaeda suspect identified as CF as well as reports of an Olympic Park worker who smuggled a fake bomb past two checkpoints into the site.
Indeed, the only major security breach in the past Olympic Games occurred in a small-scale hostage-taking incident during the 1972 summer Olympics in Munich, Germany.
And, the only major security incident in London in more than a decade occurred when 7/7 bombers blew up subway and bus stations in 2005.
This is while neither the government, Scotland Yard nor the security services has confirmed any terror threats to the games.
Moreover, there has been no 9/11-like incident anywhere neither before nor after it and no one is expecting one on London Olympics – indeed many believe the 9/11 itself was orchestrated by the US government itself.
Therefore, if any threats are jeopardizing the Games, they are from small-scale terrorist activities rather than conventional warfare.
Now one cannot help but asking if the security risk to the Games is not from conventional warfare and if no real terrorist risks are endangering the Games what is the objective of all the military fuss in London.
Defense officials have predicted a three-layered anti-aircraft defense wall consisting of expert observers, mobile and stationary radars, including the Rapier radar, missile systems, Typhoon fighter jets, attack helicopters and surveillance drones able to recognize car plates from up to one kilometers away.
Back in May, HMS Ocean’s commanding officer Andrew Betton said the vessel “is ideally suited to supporting the police in providing security for the world’s most famous sporting event.”
HMS Ocean is designed to support amphibious landing operations carrying helicopters and personnel where access to land bases for launching of operations is not possible.
Its deployment leaves one wondering what sort of security such a large ship can provide for the Olympics against terrorists.
The same goes for Rapier missile and radar system said to be able to scan areas other radars cannot cover including within empty factory buildings and buildings on the streets, LRADs, which can emit a highly focused beam of sound at 150 decibels a few dB lower than what can blow up one’s eardrums, the eight Lynx attack choppers, four RAF Typhoons, three Royal Navy Sea King choppers, Puma helicopters carrying RAF Regiment snipers, E-3D Sentry and VC-10 tankers aircraft and the 400 royal marines ready for action on the Thames.
Infowars said in an article back on May 11 “the Olympic games represent little more than an opportunity for the government to showcase its arsenal of draconian technology and stifling security measures which are justified by the threat of terrorism yet in reality are aimed at generating compliance and advancing the police state.”
However, the afore-mentioned examples show at least the security measures are not as stifling and perfect as the defense officials claim to be or probably are not meant to be as such.
It rather appears that London is simply using the Games as a military exhibition to show its military might to the world when it is at the center of hundreds of millions of people’s attention.—www.shafaqna.com/english
Source: WR NEWZ
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — It was over in little more than a minute, but it will go down as one of the most memorable moments of the London Games.
A young Saudi judo fighter's decisive defeat on the mat Friday is being hailed as a victory for women in the conservative Gulf kingdom, a step that would have seemed unimaginable if thousands of fans at the sprawling ExCel Center and millions at home hadn't seen it with their own eyes.
Wojdan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shahrkhani was one of just two women competing for Saudi Arabia at the games, the first time the Gulf state has sent female athletes at all. And she was only able to compete in judo after a compromise between Olympic organizers, the international judo federation and Saudi officials that cleared the way for her to wear a modified hijab.
Even that was unacceptable to hard-liners, who said she was dishonoring herself by fighting in front of men, including the male referee and judges.
The crowd roared as Shahrkhani stepped onto the mat for her fight against Puerto Rico's Melissa Mojica wearing judo dress and what appeared to be a tight-fitting black cap.
The drama was not in seeing who would win. In a competition where everyone else holds a high-level black belt, Shahrkhani has only attained a blue.
On the mat, the Saudi looked tentative and cautious on her feet, unwilling to grab Mojica's uniform and making little attempt to throw her off balance. The two heavyweights circled each other for about a minute before Mojica, the 24th-ranked judo fighter in the world in her weight class, grabbed Shahrkhani with a secure grip on her collar and flipped her onto her back, ending the match in 82 seconds.
As she rose to her feet, Shahrkhani gently reached for her head to make sure the hijab was still in place. It was, and the two women bowed to each other and left to a loud ovation.
Afterward, the teenager – whose age is given as 16 by Olympic organizers, but 17 or 18 by her father, and 19 on the Saudi Olympic website – walked with her father past journalists and TV cameras.
"I am happy to be at the Olympics," she whispered in Arabic, her brother, Hassan, holding both her arms. "Unfortunately, we did not win a medal, but in the future we will and I will be a star for women's participation."
Later, she sat on a sofa in her judo pants and a black Saudi Arabia track jacket and hijab, her father's arm around her shoulder.
"I was scared a lot, because of all the crowd," she said, giggling and animated as she answered questions from a small group of journalists, and vowed to be ready to compete again when the games move to Rio de Janeiro in 2016. "It was the opportunity of a lifetime."
Her father, Ali, a judo referee, told The Associated Press he "cried like a baby" watching his daughter compete.
"She was happy and smiled when she finished the fight. She hugged me and said: 'Daddy, I did this.' I was so proud," he said.
It didn't take long for voices of support to pour in – from the Olympic village and around the Middle East.
"Saudi judoka Wojdan Shahrkhani lost to her much more experienced competitor ... but many are proud of her," Saudi blogger and journalist Ahmed Al Omran tweeted.
Another Saudi resident, Alaa Al-Mizyen, added: "Wojdan remains a winner to me and millions of men AND women around the world."
Rafid Fatani, a Saudi-born man who has a blog called Saudi Root wrote, "I'll walk out later with the Saudi flag around my neck & my head up high as if we won the biggest gold medal in the history of the Olympics."
At the ExCel center, fans said they were thrilled to have witnessed history, even if the level of judo wasn't anything to write home about.
"I thought it was great, it's like a little piece of history that we saw this morning because it hasn't happened before," said Orla O'Connor, 33, from Cork in Ireland.
Mark Adams, a spokesman for the International Olympic Committee, hailed the participation of Shahrkhani and a female athlete from Qatar who competed in another event.
"It is a great symbol. It is a great message to women in those countries," he said. "Did we expect them to win gold medals? Probably not, but they're here, they're competing and I think we should be very happy."
Shahrkhani's opponent also had kind words, and said fears the hijab would get in the way, or even be dangerous, were overblown.
"There was no problem at all with the hijab. I think everyone has a right to their religion and to be given an opportunity," Mojica said. "This is no problem in judo."
In many ways, however, the young Saudi's story is just beginning.
Back home, some hard-liners have urged her not to jeopardize her place in the afterlife for a fleeting bit of fame on earth. Others have warned that she and her family could face ostracism when she goes home.
"She will definitely face difficulties (back home)," Hashem Abdo Hashem, editor-in-chief of Saudi's Arabic daily newspaper Okaz, told The Associated Press. "The society here will look at her negatively."
Saudi women face widespread restrictions in nearly all aspects of public and private life, particularly under guardianship laws that require them to have a male relative's permission before they can travel abroad, work, marry, get divorced or even be treated at some hospitals. It is also the only country in the world that forbids women – both Saudi and foreign – from driving. Some women who have challenged the driving ban have even been detained.
Recently, King Abdullah has pushed for some limited reforms in the face of opposition from the country's ultraconservative clerics. Women have been promised the ability to run and vote in municipal elections in 2015, and a new university near Jiddah allows men and women to study together in contrast to the strict general separation of the sexes across the kingdom.
The decision to allow Shahrkhani and another U.S.-based Saudi woman to compete in the games was an extension of those reforms.
After the match, Shahrkhani looked to the future, both for her and many other women in her country.—www.shafaqna.com/english
Source: Huff Post
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — Top female judo fighters have thrown their weight behind a decision to allow a Saudi athlete to compete at the London Olympic Games wearing hijab (Islamic headscarf).
"I think it's no problem for us,” Slovenia's Urska Zolnir, who won gold in the women's -63kg judo category on Tuesday, July 31, was quoted as saying by Reuters.
“It might be a problem for her. But I can't see why she shouldn't have it."
Female Muslim Olympians Make History
Ramadan and the Olympics (Special Folder)
Hijab: What’s It All About?
A controversy has emerged over the wearing of hijab in Judo competitions after the sport’s governing body banned a Saudi athlete from wearing the outfit during the Games.
The International Judo Federation (IJF) argued that its regulations forbade headgear because a fighter could be accidentally choked during the rough, physical contests in which strangling an opponent using their judo outfit is legal.
But the decision prompted Wojdan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim, 16, one of the first two Saudi women competing at the Olympics, to threaten to withdraw from the competition.
Bu a compromise was struck on Monday between judo chiefs, Olympic bosses and Saudis, allowing the Muslim athlete to take part in the women's heavyweight section on Friday wearing hijab.
A Saudi National Olympic Committee spokesman said on Monday they had agreed on an acceptable form of headscarf with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and IJF.
The IJF said it was pleased that a solution had been found.
"Working with the IOC a proposal was approved by all parties," it said in a statement.
"The solution agreed guarantees a good balance between safety and cultural considerations."
Islam sees hijab as an obligatory code of dress, not a religious symbol displaying one’s affiliations.
Female Judokas said that allowing hijab in the Olympic competitions would be good for women’s sport.
"We all want judo to be more democratic and it would be a good thing if more women were allowed to practice judo," said France's Gervise Emane, the world champion who won bronze on Tuesday.
"So if this right has been given to her and it allows her to do more sport, so be it."
The French judoka said that hijab would not disturb athletes.
"I don't think this would disturb us very much," Emane said.
"It would possibly be a drawback for her when competing."
Eva Csernoviczki, a Hungarian judo fighter, echoed a similar view.
“If (Shahrkhani) wears a tight-fitting headscarf, that would be fine, as long as it is close to the body,” said Csernoviczki, who has won a bronze medal.
“But if she’s wearing a looser one, that should not be allowed. It is too loose and could be difficult for other judo players to grip her. … It could also be dangerous if you grab her headscarf accidentally and try to choke or strangle her because it could get in the way.”
Hijab shined during Beijing Olympic Games in 2008 when many Muslim women athletes broke Western stereotypes, proving that donning hijab is not an obstacle to excelling in life and sports.
During the games, half a dozen veiled Egyptians, three Iranians, an Afghan and a Yemeni competed in sprinting, rowing, taekwondo and archery.—www.shafaqna.com/english
Source: On Islam
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — The Olympics can be "a time of new, and renewed, friendships where deeper peace and understanding is forged." That's how the Archbishop of Westminster greeted the athletes who had arrived in London from all over the world. To convey this spirit, in the opening ceremony of the Government of Her Majesty did have the flag with the five Olympic circles, a symbol of peace, raised … by a team of 16 British soldiers, chosen from among those most distinguished in recent wars.
At the head of the squad, made up of soldiers and officers from the three arms of the military, was Tal Lambert, director of communications of Lyneham and Brize Norton Air Bases, used last year in the war against Libya. Among other members of the RAF was Sergeant Suneil Raval, who distinguished himself in the wars in the Balkans and Iraq. Among those in the Navy and Marine Corps was Warrant Officer John Hiscock, who was awarded the Queen's Gallantry Medal for his actions in the invasion of Iraq. Among those of the army, Platoon Sergeant Kyle Reains distinguished himself in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, where he was wounded, and Lance Corporal Josh Rainey, with two dangerous missions in Afghanistan behind him.
For the military squad to hoist not only the British flag but also the Olympic flag was a highly symbolic gesture: a reaffirmation that the forces of the United Kingdom and other NATO countries do not conduct wars of aggression, but operate in the interest of peace and humanity. It is outrageous that the International Olympic Committee has authorized this choice, which should be banned in any country in the Olympics are held. Equally outrageous is that the international press has ignored it, though they are present in London with thousands of journalists. Their task was to describe the hat worn by Her Majesty at the time when the Olympic flag was hoisted by the soldiers who were renewing the glory of the British Empire. —www.shafaqna.com/english
Source: Global Research
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — A female judo fighter from Saudi Arabia will be allowed to compete in the Olympics wearing a form of headscarf after a compromise was reached that respects the "cultural sensitivity" of the Muslim kingdom.
Judo officials had previously said they would not let Wojdan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shahrkhani compete in a headscarf because it was against the principles of the sport and raised safety concerns.
But an agreement was reached after several days of IOC-brokered talks between the International Judo Federation and the Saudi Olympic Committee that clears the way for her to compete Friday in the heavyweight division.
"They have a solution that works for both parties, all parties involved,'" International Olympic Committee spokesman Mark Adams said. "The athlete will compete."
The agreement was later formally announced in a joint statement by the judo federation and the Saudi committee.
"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."
Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shahrkhani, the judoka's father, declined to describe what changes – if any – will be made to his daughter's head cover for the competition.
He told The Associated Press his daughter has been training with women at a special facility in London for an hour and a half every day since she arrived with her parents and her brother. Shahrkhani said his daughter, who has a blue belt in judo, is preparing for Friday's fight in seclusion.
"It's her first time in competition and it's the Olympic Games, so she is focused on that," Shahrkhani said.
Saudi Arabia, which had never sent female athletes to the Olympics before, brought its two first female Olympians to London on condition they adhere to the kingdom's Islamic traditions, including wearing a headscarf.
Shahrkhani's participation was thrown into doubt last week when judo officials said a headscarf could be dangerous because of chokeholds and aggressive grabbing techniques.
Without giving precise details, Adams said the headscarf agreement is in line with Asian judo rules and is "safety compliant but allows for cultural sensitivity.'"
"In Asia, judo is a common practice so they asked for something that would be compliant with that, and the judo federations have reached a compromise that both are happy with," he said.
Asian judo federations have previously allowed Muslim women to wear the headscarf, known as a hijab, during major competitions. Headscarves are allowed in taekwondo, but taekwondo fighters also wear a headguard, which covers the headscarf.
Shahrkhani may be the first judoka to fight at the Olympics who does not hold a black belt in judo, a Japanese martial art. She did not qualify for her Olympic spot like most of the other judo fighters. The IOC extended a special invitation for her to compete as part of negotiations to bring Saudi women to the Olympics for the first time. The other Saudi female athlete to compete in London is 19-year-old Sarah Attar, a California-based 800-meter runner.
Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Brunei had been the only three countries that had never fielded female Olympians in their teams. With all three now including women, these are the first Olympics in which every competing nation – 205 – is represented by female competitors.
"Our aim is that we want to have women from all national Olympic committees competing in the games," Adams said. "Clearly one of those that is new is Saudi. We want to make sure we give a maximum chance for women from every NOC to take part in the games."—www.shafaqna.com/english
Source: Huff Post Religion