Four Saudi women to compete in Rio Olympics

Rio de Janeiro: Saudi Arabia´s pioneer sportswoman Sarah al-Attar will move up to the marathon at the Rio Olympics from the 800 metres in London as the conservative Gulf kingdom doubles its female team.


The four women and seven men competing for Saudi Arabia arrived in Rio on Monday but were kept away from prying media.

Just two women became the first Saudi female Olympians in London four years ago.

Attar, now 23, finished last in her 800 metres heat in London, more than half a minute behind her nearest rival. She still got a standing ovation when she crossed the line clothed from head to foot in line with the conservative tradition.

She can expect a similar acclaim in the women´s marathon, which a member of the Saudi delegation said Attar would race in.

The other women are judoka Wujud Fahmi, fencer Lubna al-Omair and 100m runner Cariman Abu al-Jadail.

None qualified directly for their competition but will take part with special invitations from the International Olympic Committee.

The Saudi Olympic Committee said there would be male and female competitors at the Games. But the women´s identities were not officially given.

Women face significant obstacles to competing in sport, as other sectors of society, in Saudi Arabia. They must wear head-to-toe garments in public.