Olympic Fun

Cross-posted on the Corner.

Well, here’s a shocker, the Saudi theocracy (and like-minded Brunei and Qatar) will not be sending any female athletes to the 2012 Olympics.

As Time’s Nina Burleigh points out:

It’s not because Saudi women athletes don’t exist. They do, but they are few and far between, and face enormous social and legal pressure to sit down and stop moving.

Women in the Kingdom are legally prohibited from breaking a sweat over anything more strenuous than wearing the burka in 120 degree desert heat. To exercise publicly is to risk being smacked with the sticks of the religious police, or worse. Girls don’t expect to learn to swim, ride a bike or, god forbid, do gymnastics.

For a while in the 1990s, Saudi women had gyms where they could exercise, but in 2009 the government decided that Stairmasters and their ilk were gateways to female licentiousness and shuttered 153 women’s gyms…

The ban on gyms came at a time when rates of obesity and diabetes have risen significantly in Saudi Arabia, especially among women and girls, according to HRW. Between two-thirds to three-quarters of adults and 25% to 40% of children and adolescents are estimated to be overweight or obese. A disproportionate number of women also suffer from osteoporosis, also associated with inactivity and lack of Vitamin D (you don’t get much sunlight on your skin under a black blanket or indoors).

As Ms. Burleigh asks:

Imagine, for a moment, a world where your daughter was not just discouraged from playing soccer or swimming or doing gymnastics but prohibited from running in public. Is there a nation in the world that would single out a male minority for similar treatment, and not face diplomatic complaints or sanctions?

But don’t worry, the bureaucrats of the International Olympics Committee are on the case:

“The IOC strives to ensure the Olympic Games and the Olympic movement are universal and non-discriminatory, in line with the Olympic Charter and our values of respect, friendship and excellence. National Olympic committees are encouraged to uphold that spirit in their delegations. The IOC does not give ultimatums or deadlines, but believes a lot can be achieved through dialogue.”

Good luck with that.

In the meantime, this is just another reason to have nothing to do with the grotesque display of extorted-from-the-taxpayer excess that the Olympics represent. Is it really too late for Pyongyang 2012?

H/T: Andrew Sullivan


Many thanks to the commenter who notes that there are gyms for women in Saudia Arabia. In her article, Nina Burleigh appears to suggest that that is not the case, but here’s what Human Rights Watch has to say:

A few women in Saudi Arabia do play sports, but they are limited to exercising at home or in a few expensive gyms, or playing in underground leagues that are segregated by gender. Saudi Arabia may be the only country in the world where girls, unlike boys, do not receive physical education in government schools, and that has no state programs for supporting competitive female athletes. Besides facing discrimination in schools and competitive sports, Saudi women also encounter obstacles when exercising for their health or playing team sports for fun. No women’s sports clubs exist, and even exercise gyms have to masquerade as “health clubs,” usually attached to hospitals, in order to receive a commercial license, which men’s gyms do not have to do.

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3 Responses to Olympic Fun

  1. John says:

    “The IOC does not give ultimatums or deadlines, but believes a lot can be achieved through dialogue.”

    I have no respect for anyone that makes a statement like that.

  2. ijuhyuj says:

    A broken watch is still right twice a day, you however appear to be wrong about EVERYTHING. I started reading this site because I liked the other writers, every couple of months now I just check again and – nope – still almost totally you. And wrong on everything.

    So far as this matter is concerned for example, plenty of societies with traditional gender roles produced (and still produce) happier outcomes than more permissive ones with their public property females (yeah, modern America qualifies). So far as mocking atheists who want to bring some of the benefits of religion into the sphere of the godless, ditto. You bloviate like an ass and fail entirely to notice how adolescent you sound in your simpleminded bombast. Same for your unthinking dismissal of any and all safety nets, the charitable benefits of the Catholic Church and any skepticism about rahrah stories filled with childish hatred of all things done by any people who belong to any religion.

    I assumed this blog would throw a spotlight on secular CONSERVATIVES but you’ve turned it into yet another blog by know-nothing secular capitalistic libertarians.

  3. Andrew Stuttaford says:

    Hullo ijuhyuj, always good to get a reaction, even a rather (to borrow your word) bombastic one. Your implied defense of the “traditional gender roles” apparently exemplified by Saudi Arabia has, if nothing else, the virtue of novelty, and, indeed shows bracing multiculturalist rectitude. We don’t see a lot of that around here.

    Looking at what you have to say, I fear that we must agree to disagree (nothing wrong with that) (1) on our views and (2) your categorization of my opinions and how I express them. I am, however, mildly curious to know where exactly you have found my “unthinking dismissal of any and all safety nets [and] the charitable benefits of the Catholic Church”.

    Finally you say that you had assumed this blog would throw “a spotlight on secular CONSERVATIVES”, to which I can only suggest that you take another look at its name. It is Secular Right, not Secular Conservative. The two terms are not mutually exclusive, but nor are they the same.

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