Sausi Arabian Wodjan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shahrkhani, 16, will now compete in the +78kg judo category in two days.

Last week, the Austrian president of the International Judo Federation (IJF), Marius Vizer, said Shahrkhani would not be allowed to wear a headscarf to compete for safety reasons.

However Shahrkhani’s father told Saudi Arabia’s al-Watan newspaper that his daughter “will not compete in the Judo Games on August 3 if the committee insists that she removes her hijab.”

For a while it looked as though Shahrkhani’s Olympic dream would be thwarted, all the more galling because this is the first year the country has allowed women to compete in the Olympics.

But now the IJF and Saudi Arabia’s Olympic committee have agreed that Asian judo federations which oversee Muslim countries such as Malaysia make an allowance for judokas who wear the headscarf.

There was jubilation when it was revealed that Saudi Arabia would finally allow female athletes to take part in the Olympics as the country is known for its repression of women. While Shahrkhani will compete in the judo competition, Saudi’s Sarah Attar – who has dual American citizenship – will run in the women’s 800 metres.

It has not been revealed whether Attar will choose to wear a headscarf to compete in the running event.


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