Saudi judoka Wojdan Shaherkani was on Thursday banned from wearing the hijab head scarf when she is fighting at the Olympic Games, AFP said.
The 18-year-old heavyweight, part of a two-woman team sent from the conservative kingdom to an Olympics for the first time, was ordered by International Judo Federation president Marius Vizer to step onto the mat with her head uncovered.
Judo applies strict safety rules and any covering on the head is deemed to present a risk to the fighter’s health. Shaherkani is due to take part in the women’s judo competition on August 3.
Saudi Arabia only agreed to send a women’s team to London on condition that their two athletes respect a strict dress code.
The country’s most senior sports official Prince Nawaf bin Faisal had told local daily Al-Jazirah the two athletes would be allowed to compete as long as they will be “wearing suitable clothing that complies with sharia.”