Today marks the start of the 2012 London Olympic Games. Most of you will be glued to a TV from around 7:00pm until you realize it’s a Friday night and you should be out doing something way more exciting. The Summer Olympics comes once every four years, and it’s a time for everyone in the world to put aside their political and religious differences. It’s also the only time it’s ever appropriate to wear that silly t-shirt you bought that says “Team America, F*** Yeah!” from Spencer’s Gifts.
As long as your national athletic committee feels you’re qualified enough to represent your country, you’re free to compete against the best athletes in the world on a neutral playing field in the Olympic arena. Everyone plays by the same rules and there is absolutely no discrimination based on gender, race, or religion - unless you’re Wojdan Shaherkani.
Wojdan Shaherkani was banned from wearing her hijab head scarf during competition, a condition to which Saudi Arabia agreed to send a women’s team to the London Games. The other condition was that there be no ‘mixing with men’ during the games, despite both male and female athletes sharing a Judo training facility. The news was delivered to the 18 year old heavyweight and the remainder of her team yesterday morning by the IJF President Marius Vizer who said “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".
In response, the International Olympic Committee had the following to say:
"At the moment we are discussing with the International Judo Federation and the Saudi Arabia Olympic Committee to find a solution for her to compete,"
"I don't think she has to compete until August 3. The rules of the federation are she cannot wear a scarf for safety reasons."
Ah yes, Safety. I suppose that’s better than saying “We just don’t like you.” I’m sure this doesn’t make you feel any better, Wojdan Shaherkani, but at the time of writing this article, London police are arresting hipster cyclists en-route to an 18 year old ‘Critical Mass’ ride which occurs on the last Friday of every month in the interest of “national security”. Maybe London is just that kind of city. Matt Riddle seems to think so…