RIYADH, Saudi Arabia -- No women from Saudi Arabia have qualified for the London Olympics, a newspaper from the ultraconservative Muslim kingdom reported.
The story in the pan-Arab daily newspaper Al-Sharq al-Awsat – an important media tool for Saudi rulers – said Saudi male athletes have qualified to compete in track, equestrian and weightlifting at the games that start in less than three weeks.
There is no "female team taking part in the three fields," the report said Sunday, quoting an unidentified Saudi official. He said no female athlete had taken part in qualifying events in Saudi Arabia, which severely restricts women in public life.
Saudi leaders have been under pressure to end the practice of sending all-male teams to international competitions. They could face IOC sanctions after the London Games if women are excluded from the country's Olympic team.
The Saudi Embassy in London said two weeks ago that women who qualify will be allowed to compete. Last week, IOC President Jacques Rogge said he remains optimistic the Gulf kingdom will send women to the games for the first time.