Report: Saudi judo competitor to withdraw from Olympics if headscarf ban is upheld

(CBS/AP) A competitor from Saudi Arabia, who is one of the country's first female athletes ever selected for the Olympics, will pull out of the London Games if she is not allowed to wear a headscarf, or hijab, during competition, her father was quoted as saying in media reports.

According to the BBC, the father of judoka Wojdan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shahrkhani told Saudi Arabia's al-Watan newspaper that his daughter "will not compete in the Judo Games on 3 August if the committee insists that she removes her hijab."

Last week, the International Judo Federation said that Shahrkhani would not be allowed to wear a headscarf during competition "according to the principles and spirit of judo."

Saudi female judoka not allowed to wear headscarf during Olympics

Shahrkhani is scheduled to compete in the 78 kg category. She was drawn to first fight Melissa Mojica, from Puerto Rico Aug. 3.

Shahrkhani was given a special invitation from the International Olympic Committee to compete in London. She has never fought at the international level before and has mostly been coached by her father, a judo coach and an international referee.

Saudi Arabia, which sent its first two female athletes to the games, had only agreed to let women participate if they adhered to the kingdom's conservative Islamic traditions, including wearing a headscarf.

On Friday, Nicolas Messner, a spokesman for the International Judo Federation, said there was "good collaboration" to find a solution among judo officials, the International Olympic Committee and Saudi Arabia.

Messner said wearing a headscarf could be dangerous because the sport includes chokeholds and strangleholds.

Headscarves are allowed in taekwondo. The World Taekwondo Federation changed its rules in recent years to accommodate Muslim female athletes. Some of the strongest medal contenders at the Olympics in the female division of the sport are from Egypt and Iran.

But all taekwondo fighters must also wear a headguard which is worn over a headscarf.

FIFA recently reversed it five-year ban on headscarves and now allows women to play football with their head covered.

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