RIYADH - Saudi Arabia will not prevent its female citizens from competing in the Olympics, but it will not officially endorse them, the head of the country's sporting authority was quoted as telling a newspaper.
The remarks may represent a compromise between Saudi Arabia's religious hardliners and its social reformers amid international pressure for the conservative Islamic kingdom to enter a woman athlete for the first time at London 2012.
"We don't endorse any Saudi female participation in the Olympiad and international tournaments," al-Riyadh daily quoted Prince Nawaf bin Faisal, head of the General Presidency of Youth Welfare, as saying.
"Female Saudi participation will be according to the wishes of students and others living abroad. All we are doing is to ensure that participation is in the proper framework and in conformity with sharia," he was reported to have said.