(LONDON) — Saudi women’s judo competitor Wodjan Shahrkhani is fast becoming the most sympathetic figure at the London Summer Olympics.
She’s just one of two women Saudi Arabia sent to the Games and has had to overcome slurs from Saudi men at home who say that women in sports are immoral. In fact, her country still bans females from taking part in athletic events inside the kingdom.
So what happens when Shahrkhani arrives in London? The International Judo Federation says she cannot wear her traditional head scarf during competition, claiming it can pose a hazard to herself and her opponent.
This could wind up being a deal breaker for Shahrkhani and her participation in the Olympics, which activist Minky Worden with Human Rights Watch calls a travesty, especially since it would only leave one other woman from Saudi Arabia to compete in the Games.
Worden says, “The world should cheer Wodjan Shahrkhani and Sarah Attar as they make history in London, but we must also remember millions of women and girls inside Saudi Arabia who can only watch from the sidelines.”
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Sugam Pokharel and AJ Willingham, CNN
Ivana Kottasova, CNN
Alanna Petroff, CNN