Shaherkani makes history as first Saudi Arabian woman to compete at the Olympics
Wojdan Shaherkani, 16 years old, paved the way for Saudi Arabian women when she took part in the +78kg judo competition on Friday.
Despite only lasting 82 seconds in the game against Puerto Rica’s Melissa Mojica, Shaherkani has become an inspiration for Saudi Arabian women.
Due to the small number of Saudi Arabian women participating in sports, the choice for the Olympics was limited and Shaherkani did not meet the minimum qualifications required.
She wore a black belt although she is only qualified for a blue belt, meaning her competition was especially hard and she was expected to lose.
Shaherkani’s case previously caused controversy as the International Judo Federation said she could not fight with a headscarf due to safety reasons.
Saudi’s authorities require women who compete in the games to obey Islamic dress codes, which meant there was a possibility of the 16-year-old having to withdraw from the game.
The International Judo Federation considered the headscarf dangerous because of the nature of the sport that includes strangleholds and chokeholds.
On Tuesday, three days before the match, they agreed on a tight black cap to replace the hijab and Shaherkani was allowed to participate.
Line Elise Svanevik