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Saudi Olympian May Withdraw Over Headscarf Ban

Saudi judo competitor Wojdan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shaherkani is one of the country's first female Olympians.


One of Saudi Arabia's first two female Olympians may withdraw from the judo competition in London if she can't wear her Islamic headscarf during bouts.

Wojdan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shaherkani, 16, is scheduled to begin competing on Friday, BBC News reported.

Earlier this month, Saudi Arabian officials said the country's female athletes would have to obey Islamic dress code, which includes a hijab, long sleeves and pants, according to Reuters.

But International Judo Federation president Marius Vizer said Shaherkani would have to fight without a hijab last week, sparking conflict.

Her father Ali told Saudi Arabia's al-Watan newspaper that his daughter "will not compete in the Judo Games on 3 August if the committee insists that she removes her hijab."

Saudi and international Olympic officials met late into the night Sunday with International Judo Federation representatives to try to resolve the case, but failed to break the deadlock as of Monday morning, CNN reported.

"There is nothing to say it is finalized yet," Saudi National Olympic Committee representative Razen Baker told CNN. "She is here, and we want her to compete."

Shaherkani and 800m runner Sarah Attar are Saudi Arabia's two female competitors in the London Games.