Personally I think it’s an important thing to do. I was very proud when in 2000 the games hosted in my country banned Afghanistan due to the extremist rule of the Taliban’s oppression of women and its prohibition of them playing sport.
The games are not about race, religion, gender, orientation or age. It’s the best of the best competing from around the world- or at least it should be. If countries wish to actively discriminate they should not be welcome. What do you think?
The Human Rights Watch report is HERE: “Steps of the Devil’: Denial of Women and Girls’ Right to Sport in Saudi Arabia,”
Last week, an international human rights group called for the IOC to consider barring Saudi Arabia from the Games unless that country opens its team to women, and moves to improve physical education and opportunities for Saudi girls.
Saudi Arabia is one of three countries that fields men, but never women, in the Olympics, and the only country that is prohibited by national law from selecting women for its team.
The call for exclusion is not without precedent or law. In 2000, Afghanistan was barred from the Sydney Olympics, in part because of its treatment of women. Apartheid kept South Africa from the Games, and the Olympic Charter precludes discrimination.
At first blush, it might seem the fielding of a Saudi women’s beach volleyball squad would mark only a symbolic victory. However, it would necessarily require funding for a women’s Olympic program, investment in sport for Saudi women and eventually a reversal of the law that forbids sports for girls in Saudi state schools.
At the Olympics, race or religion is irrelevant. We’re all just here to do sport. Sport is a human right.
Any nation that does not recognize this basic fact does not deserve a spot on an international stage of excellence.