Saudi female athletes fear crackdown after London Games

AP, Monday 2 Jul 2012

Saudi women athletes in the conservative kingdom are worried about a backlash at home after the summer Olympics

Saudi Arabia
In this undated photo provided by Reema Abdullah, members of the Jeddah Kings United all female team attend football exercise in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. (Photo: AP)

While Olympic leaders and human rights advocates are encouraged by signs that Saudi Arabia may bow to pressure and send female athletes to the Summer Games, women athletes in the ultraconservative kingdom are worried about a backlash at home.

They fear the hardline Muslim leaders will punish women, who secretly play soccer and basketball in Saudi Arabia, by cracking down on clandestine sports activities after the Olympic flame goes out in London.

Saudi officials said women who qualify will be allowed to compete at the Olympics next month, but female athletes have yet to be named on the Saudi Olympic team.

Saudi women say they need to obtain at least some of the basic rights equal to those men have in the kingdom, before competing for their country abroad.

Saudi women are not allowed to drive in their country and they are also banned from voting in elections.

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