Princess to oversee women's sport in Saudi Arabia

Sport360 staff 08:10 03/08/2016
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Princess Reema.

Princess Reema bint Bandar bin Sultan was named head of the women’s section at the General Authority for Sports, which acts as the kingdom’s sports ministry, the official SPA news agency said. It did not specify what her responsibilities would be.

Princess Reema is the daughter of the once powerful Prince Bandar bin Sultan, who was the Saudi ambassador to Washington for 22 years until 2005. She was educated in the United States.

“I am honoured to serve my nation,” SPA quoted Princess Reema as saying.

Women face significant obstacles to competing in sport in Saudi Arabia, where women are deprived of certain rights, have to cover from head to toe and not allowed to drive.

Four Saudi female athletes are however taking part in the Olympics this year in Rio, where they were due to arrive with seven Saudi men on Monday.

However, they were not present at the Saudi welcoming ceremony at the athletes’ village as the country’s National Olympic Committee confirmed the women were yet to arrive.

Those sportswomen include marathon runner Sarah al-Attar, judoka Wujud Fahmi, fencer Lubna al-Omair and 100m runner Cariman Abu al-Jadail.

Both Attar and Fahmi were returning to the Games after they became the country’s first female Olympians in London four years ago.

In a first in 2014, a Saudi state school introduced sports for girls, after a call for lifting a ban on women in sports.

Saudi authorities shut down private gyms for women in 2009 and 2010, and women are effectively barred from sports arenas by strict rules on segregation of the sexes in public.

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