IOC Shuns Saudi Arabia’s Proposed Cross-Border, Split-Gender Olympic Bid

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has vetoed a joint bid by Saudi Arabia with Bahrain for a future Summer Olympic Games.

Saudi Arabia Olympic Committee Logo

Saudi Arabia Olympic Committee Logo

Prince Fahad bin Jalawi Al Saud, an international relations consultant to the president of the Saudi Arabian Olympic Committee, told a French Olympic website that resolutions passed by the IOC last month opened the door for a possible joint bid, with men’s events being held on Saudi territory and women’s competitions in Bahrain.

But those same resolutions that were passed as part of the Agenda 2020 package in Monaco also called for gender-equality and non-discrimination, keeping the door to Saudi Arabia firmly shut.

Saudi women are largely unable to access sports in public schools where physical education is not on the curriculum for girls.  It sent two women to the Olympics for the first time to the 2012 London Games, but the country sent a male-only team last year to the Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea.

IOC President Thomas Bach told The Associated Press that Saudi Arabia would be ineligible to bid for the Olympics unless it complies with rules barring discrimination against women in sports.

He said, “a commitment to ‘non-discrimination’ will be mandatory for all countries hoping to bid for the Olympics in the future.”

“This was made very clear in the Olympic Agenda 2020 reforms and will even be in the host city contract.

“If this is not applied, the bid would not be admissible.  Countries like Saudi Arabia must really work to allow female athletes to freely participate”.