Olympic Farce…

 

The Olympics: The pinnacle of the sporting calendar.

It is governed by the IOC, the International Olympic Committee. Their job is detailed in the Olympic Charter:

  • * To encourage and support the promotion of ethics in sport as well as education of youth through sport and to dedicate its efforts to ensuring that, in sport, the spirit of fair play prevails and violence is banned;
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  • * To encourage and support the organisation, development and coordination of sport and sports competitions;
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  • * To ensure the regular celebration of the Olympic Games;
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  • * To cooperate with the competent public or private organisations and authorities in the endeavour to place sport at the service of humanity and thereby to promote peace;
  •  
  • *To take action in order to strengthen the unity and to protect the independence of the Olympic Movement;
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  • * To act against any form of discrimination affecting the Olympic Movement;
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  • * To encourage and support the promotion of women in sport at all levels and in all structures with a view to implementing the principle of equality of men and women;
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  • * To lead the fight against doping in sport;
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  • * To encourage and support measures protecting the health of athletes;
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  • * To oppose any political or commercial abuse of sport and athletes;
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  • * To encourage and support the efforts of sports organisations and public authorities to provide for the social and professional future of athletes;
  •  
  • * To encourage and support the development of sport for all;
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  • * To encourage and support a responsible concern for environmental issues, to promote sustainable development in sport and to require that the Olympic Games are held accordingly;
  •  
  • * To promote a positive legacy from the Olympic Games to the host cities and host countries; 
  •  
  • * To encourage and support initiatives blending sport with culture and education;
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  • * To encourage and support the activities of the International Olympic Academy (IOA) and other institutions which dedicate themselves to Olympic education.

 

This charter appears to be of sound values but quite where it fits in practice now appears to be obsolete.

 

I make this in reference to the fact that Saudi-Arabia have refused to grant permission for any female athletes to participate at the Olympic Games.

 

In 2009 the Saudi government closed gyms for women and strict laws dictating how they should dress and behave make it extremely difficult for them to partake in physical activity

 

A few years ago a marathon event was held in which women could only participate if they wore the abaya – a black cloak which covers the body head to toe.

 

This is clearly a ‘tolerance’ by Olympic organisers towards gender discrimination by Saudi Arabia as well as Qatar and the tiny Asian nation of Brunei – three countries that have never sent a female competitor to an Olympic event.

 

If we can hark back to the Olympics in Sydney in the year 2000 – Afghanistan, was refused to participate in the Olympic Games for the very same reason, so why not now?

 

The IOC has made a statement on the issue, “National Olympic committees are encouraged to uphold that spirit in their delegations. The IOC does not give ultimatums or deadlines, but believes a lot can be achieved through dialogue.”

 

Really, well it was fitting to take issue with Afghanistan – so why not Saudi?

 

Personally I am not a great believer in banning Saudi from the games, after all the male participants will have worked their whole entire lives for this opportunity and to remove their one opportunity at their dream on the basis of national politics would be both wrong and unjust for those individuals.

 

The main point here is the hypocrisy of the situation. Due to a lack of opportunity at physical events in their home land, it would be rather safe to say that there is only a slim chance of a Saudi woman being at the Olympic standard to compete. That however, is neither here nor there. The opportunity, the chance – should still be there.

 

As I say, the general rule always has an exception and even in sex suppressed Saudi there is one glimmering hope. Equestrian Dalma Rushdi Malhas competed for the kingdom in the 2010 Youth Olympic Games, where she took home a bronze medal. Some analysts believed that she had the best chance to qualify for the Olympics, but now, it seems that the country’s all-male equestrian team is deep into training in Europe— without her.

 

Further, Olympic rules have bent over backward to allow countries with fewer highly trained athletes to send participants to the games by offering universality slots in many track and field and swimming events. The slots are reserved for countries that can’t produce any athletes that meet the qualifying standards. Saudi Arabia has not opted to fill any of those slots with female athletes.

 

There is no point beating about the bush in this argument. It is no coincidence that Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest exporter of Oil and therefore a ‘friend’ of just about every single Government in operation.

 

Perhaps, due to this fact, they are being given far too much slack in a country where Human Rights are clearly non-existent. I ask you this: Would South Africa have been allowed to compete if it had refused to send a black competitor during apartheid? It would certainly have come under a great deal more scrutiny than this issue that is being swept under the carpets of the IOC office on a daily, hourly basis.

 

 

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