Time for IOC to take stand
These are the International Olympics Committee’s own words, spelled out at the very beginning of its charter, right after the preamble, under a section known as “Fundamental Principles of Olympism.”
“The practice of sport is a human right. Every individual must have the possibility of practicing sport, without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit ...”
It’s time for the IOC to live up to them.
If Saudi Arabia won’t allow women to compete at the London Games, tell the guys who run the oil-rich kingdom they can keep the rest of their team – the men – at home, too.
No more negotiations. No more sorting out the details. This is a major issue, no less important than a stand taken by the IOC nearly a half-century ago when faced with the issue of apartheid in South Africa.
Less than a month before the 1964 Olympics
– roughly the same amount of time that we stand away from the start of the London Games – the organization banned South Africa from sending a team to Tokyo because of its policy of racial
Never mind that South Africa tried to buy itself some time by offering to send a team with seven nonwhites among its 62 athletes.
The IOC held firm. The ban lasted until the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, after Nelson Mandela had been freed from prison and apartheid had been totally
We’ll never know exactly how much influence the IOC’s ban – and other sports-related boycotts – had on shutting down that despicable system. But rest assured, it didn’t hurt.
Now, it’s time to act again, boldly and with purpose, to fully comply with the very next principle of Olympism after the one mentioned above: “Any form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person on grounds of race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic Movement.”
Seems pretty clear. If Saudi Arabia insists on remaining the last holdout against allowing females to compete, their invitation to Britain is revoked.
Saudi Arabia’s male athletes would be victims in this whole mess, too, forced to miss out on the grandest sporting event of their lives even if they don’t have the least bit of problem
with marching into the
Olympic Stadium alongside women.
Unfortunately, there’s always collateral damage in these sort of disputes. There were undoubtedly plenty of worthy South Africans who missed out on the Olympics during the 28 years their country was banned through no fault of their own. There is no repaying what they lost, but at least a greater good was the result.
That is the hope for Saudi Arabia.
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