Muslim and Arab Women at the Olympics: Gold Medal or Headscarf?
The awarding of a wildcard to the Saudi Arabian judoka was not exactly without consequences; indeed it was used by the Saudi NOC to provoke a quarrel on sporting and cultural policies. Although in Rogge's words, "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", it was only after a deal of to-ing and fro-ing, when Rogge's female-friendly games threatened to become a PR disaster, that the Judo Federation relented on its stance and agreed to allow the competitor to wear a specially modified hijab.
In 1896, French sports official Pierre de Coubertin decided that the inclusion of women would be "impractical, uninteresting, unaesthetic and incorrect". Four years later in Paris, the first women participated in horseback-riding, tennis, golf, sailing and croquet. In 1912, they were allowed to join the swimming, except for the Americans, whose own sports association did not permit participation in sports where no long skirts could be worn.