By Abed Khazindar
Al-Riyadh newspaperIN the age of globalization, we cannot but be part of the world. We should be global citizens who share feelings of joy and sorrow and show sportsmanship by competing in sporting events. And we need to realize that we cannot impose our traditions and customs on the world.
This is the theme which the negotiations between Jacques Rogge, president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the General Presidency for Youth Welfare are revolving around. The IOC is insisting that the Kingdom send a women’s team to compete in the London 2012 Olympics and wants a quick reply from the General Presidency, which the latter is not prepared to do.
Since it was founded, the Presidency has been concerned with the welfare of young men but has ignored women so the least it could do is not object to Saudi women participating in the Olympic Games even if it does not approve of their participation. The only countries that have never sent women athletes to the Olympics are Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Brunei. Qatar, which wants to stage the 2020 Games, has announced that it will dispatch 3 athletes and Brunei will send one too. In our case, we have plenty of viable candidates both in the Kingdom and outside who have voiced their desire to participate.
Our non-participation makes us the odd one out. We need to change how we view sports especially considering we are a country that has high levels of obesity and other problems caused by lack of exercise. After suffering from an illness and being bedridden for months, I have personally experienced the harm a lack of exercise can cause to the body. After all, he was indeed right, the one who said “Teach your children swimming, archery and horse-riding.”