Saudi Women in the Olympics: Breakthrough or Tokenism?

Date: August 2012

Saudi Arabia has a first as it enters the 2012 Olympics in London – with women athletes — even though it is the last Muslim country to do so. The first two Saudi women Olympians are Wojdan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shahrkhani and Sarah Attar in judo and track and field respectively.

External Image vs. Internal Reality for Saudi Women
Saudi women in the London Olympics – is a giant step forward but complex and punctuated by a dual message. It signals Saudi Arabia’s openness to becoming a global player on many more playing fields. Yet, this signal butts up against the reality that Saudi schoolgirls lack access to sports and physical activities, a huge deprivation in a population afflicted with extraordinary levels of obesity and where 45% of middle aged women are obese.