Saudi Judoka Barred From Wearing Hijab

Olympic participation in doubt


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The president of the International Judo Federation said Thursday that one of Saudi Arabia’s first female athletes ever selected for the Olympics will have to compete without a headscarf. The federation ruled that judo competitor Wojdan Shahrkhani’s hijab would pose a safety risk and not be in accordance with the principles and spirit of the sport. Saudi Arabia had agreed to send its first female competitors to the Olympic Games on the condition that they wear “suitable clothing that complies with sharia,” according to Prince Nawaf bin Faisal. The Saudi Arabian Olympic Committe has yet to respond to the ruling, and it’s unclear if Shahrkhani will compete. Beyond the headscarf issue, Shahrkhani’s participation remains contentious because she’s been involved in the sport for only two years and is not yet a black belt. Shahrkhani was invited to compete at the Olympics by the International Olympic Committee despite not qualifying to compete. Saudi Arabia does not permit women to participate in its 150 official sports clubs.


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