For the first time, every single country participating in the 2012 Olympics will have at least one woman present. This historic and clearly momentous achievement comes with an asterisk, though.
While Saudi Arabia (which in 2008 was one of only three countries to not send any females) has finally ceded some ground and permitted two women to attend this year’s games, they did so under certain conditions.
According to Prince Nawaf bin Faisal’s recent interview with Al-Jazirah, the women could compete so long as they were "wearing suitable clothing that complies with sharia," and "the athlete's guardian agrees and attends with her."
Predictably, the “suitable clothing” restriction became an immediate impediment for all involved.
On Thursday, International Judo Federation president Marius Vizer came out and announced that Wojdan Shaherkani, one of the two women sent to represent the Saudis in London, could not wear her hijab head scarf while fighting.
"The Saudi Arabian athlete will take part in judo and she will fight according to the principle and spirit of judo, so without a hijab," he said.
The headwear isn’t Shaherkani only problem. Before sending them to London, the powers that be back in Saudi Arabia also gave their female athletes one other restriction: no mixing with men.
According to Yahoo, Olympic judo protocol calls for men and women to warm up in the competition hall, and then fight near one another in the actual competition area.
So far, Shaherkani hasn’t given any indication that this stuff will be a problem. It's still early, though.