Saudi Arabia, the last of three countries to deny women the ability to participate in the Olympic Games, has finally relented.
After pressure from the International Olympic Committee to allow women to compete, the Saudi Embassy in London announced its decision, saying “it wished to reaffirm its support for the sublime meanings reflected by Olympic Games and the cherished values of excellence, friendship and respect that they represent.”
The situation has certainly come a long way from the expectations that ran rampant about the kingdom under the late Crown Prince Nayef. His successor –Crown Prince Salman- is widely seen as more progressive, though reforming at a lethargic pace.
The announcement raised some eyebrows as sports are still banned for girls in Saudi Arabian public schools.Women also cannot vote or hold public office.
Things are expected to change gradually, however, as King Abdullah is seen as open to reforms such as allowing women to drive and vote.