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Saudi Arabia Says Women Athletes Can Compete In London Olympics

Saudi Arabia has announced that for the first time, women athletes from the kingdom will be permitted to participate in the Olympics.

The Saudi Embassy in London made the announcement with the opening of the Olympics in the British capital due in about one month, on July 27.

Reports say equestrian competitor Dalma Malhas is likely to be the only Saudi female athlete to qualify for the London Games.

The move comes after human rights groups called on the International Olympic Committee to bar Saudi Arabia from competing in London, citing the kingdom's failure to ever send a single woman to an Olympics.

The issue of women in sport remains sensitive in conservative Muslim Saudi Arabia, where women are not allowed to drive cars and face other restrictions on their activities.

Based on reporting by AFP and Reuters

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