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Saudi Arabia adds female athletes ahead of London 2012 Olympic Games

Saudi Arabia adds female athletes ahead of London 2012 Olympic Games

Saudi Arabia has confirmed it will be sending two female athletes to the London 2012 Olympic Games, meaning every National Olympic Committee will now be represented by women at the event.

The decision to send Wodjan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shahrkhani (judo, + 78kg) and Sarah Attar (athletics, 800m) follows earlier confirmation by Brunei Darussalam and Qatar - the only other NOCs yet to send female athletes to the Games - they would also have female athletes competing at London 2012.

The two Saudi athletes, invited to the Games by the International Olympic Committee, were entered by the Saudi Arabian Olympic Committee by the official deadline.

Attar, 17, said she was honoured by the prospect of competing for her country at London 2012.

“A big inspiration for participating in the Olympic Games is being one of the first women for Saudi Arabia to be going,” she said at her training base in San Diego, USA.

She added: “It is such a huge honour and I hope that it can really make some big strides for women over there to get more involved in sport.”

The news was also welcomed by IOC President Jacques Rogge, a long-time advocate of gender equality in sport.

“This is very positive news and we will be delighted to welcome these two athletes in London in a few weeks’ time,” he said.

“The IOC has been working very closely with the Saudi Arabian Olympic Committee, and I am pleased to see that our continued dialogue has come to fruition.

“The IOC has been striving to ensure a greater gender balance at the Olympic Games, and today’s news can be seen as an encouraging evolution. With Saudi Arabian female athletes now joining their fellow female competitors from Qatar and Brunei Darussalam, it means that by London 2012 every National Olympic Committee will have sent women to the Olympic Games.”