I remember – and I hope that I’m not the only one – that South Africa was excluded from competing in the Olympics because of their Apartheid policy. Apparently there was a time when sport and politics did mix, and there were no objections to that. Well – not from anyone but the White South African community of course. From 1960 to 1992, no South Africans represented their own country at the Olympics.
So if excluding black people from your Olympics team is reason for the IOC to exclude you, how about excluding women from your team? And don’t give me that nonsense about religion and culture – the South African Boere used religion as an excuse to explain their Apartheid (claiming that the blacks were the ‘sons of Cham’ cursed by Noah) and it was very much a part of their culture, too. Nobody, however, really gave a damn about their explanations. And rightfully so.
Right now, Saudi Arabia and Brunei are the only two countries excluding women from competing in the Olympics on the grounds that they consider women participating in sports sinful. Imagine that – even Iran has sent women, and one of them carried the flag. Undoubtedly that was mainly a gesture to critics, but there she was: rower Homa Hosseini. And really, nobody should give a damn about this supposed sinfulness. We all know that women are suppressed because it’s convenient for men – God doesn’t enter into it at all.
Wajeha Al-Huwaider, who earlier made a video about women driving, has issued a YouTube video pleading for an end to the ban, claiming that one of the wives of the Prophet Muhammad used to practice sports. She deserves respect for what can only be described as acts of bravery. And when all of us are so hell bent on seeing Tibet liberated, surely we can exert some pressure on the IOC to ban nations which practice gender discrimination.
But with Prince Nawaf Bin Faisal Bin Fahd Bin Abdul Aziz in the IOC, do we stand a chance?