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Saudi Olympian allowed to compete in judo wearing hijab

Suzanne Plunkett / Reuters file

Saudi Arabia's Wojdan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shaherkani.

LONDON -- One of Saudi Arabia's first two female Olympians will compete in judo after a deal was reached on an acceptable design for her Islamic headscarf, or hijab, officials said on Monday.

Wojdan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shaherkani had said she would not compete in the +78 kilograms (172 pounds) category on Friday unless she was allowed to wear the hijab, but judo officials had refused her request, saying it would be dangerous.

"All three parties agreed this afternoon on the headscarf and she will compete," Razan Baker, a spokeswoman for the Saudi National Olympic Committee, told Reuters. "They agreed on a design and she will compete wearing this design."

Shaherkani and Sarah Attar, an 800-meter runner, are the first Saudi women to take part in the Olympics.

The Judo Federation ruled one of Saudi Arabia's first female Olympic athletes will not be allowed to wear a hijab in the judo competition. Human Rights Watch advocate Minky Worden reacts.

Saudi Arabia was one of three countries, along with Brunei and Qatar, never to have sent female athletes to the Olympics. After talks with the IOC, all three sent delegations this year that include women.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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