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Saudi Arabia Joins Brunei Darussalam and Qatar to Send Female Athletes to London Olympics

Update Date: Jul 12, 2012 01:01 PM EDT
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Despite strong opposition from many Saudi religious conservatives, Saudi Arabia will be sending two female athletes to the summer Olympic games set to start later this month. This also means that for the first time since the inception of the Olympic Games there will be a female entrant from every competing nation.

Saudi Arabia joins Brunei Darussalam and Qatar to send women to the games for the first time.

Saudi Arabia will send Wodjan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shahrkhani to participate in judo and Sarah Attar to compete in the 800 meters.

Shahrkhani and Attar were entered by the Saudi Arabian Olympic Committee by the official deadline of 9 July.

Attar, 17, said she is honored to compete for her country at London 2012.

"A big inspiration for participating in the Olympic Games is being one of the first women for Saudi Arabia to be going," Attar said. "It's such a huge honor and I hope that it can really make some big strides for women over there to get more involved in sport."

Attar train in San Diego.

International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge said the committee will be delighted to welcome these two athletes in London.

"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," Rogge said. "The IOC has been striving to ensure a greater gender balance at the Olympic Games, and today's news can be seen as an encouraging evolution. With Saudi Arabian female athletes now joining their fellow female competitors from Qatar and Brunei Darussalam, it means that by London 2012 every National Olympic Committee will have sent women to the Olympic Games."

The IOC has worked for many decades to promote women in sport, both on and off the field of play. Female participation has skyrocketed from nearly two percent in 1908 to 42 percent in 2008.

The news come after news broke that women's boxing will be included in the Olympics and for the first time, women will compete in every sport for the first time in the 116-year history of the modern Olympic Games.

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