Thomas Bach discusses IOC assistance to help increase participation

Thomas Bach, the IOC president, has discussed the issue of women’s participation in sports with Saudi Arabia’s Olympics chief.

International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach says the IOC will provide support to Saudi Arabia to increase the participation of women in sport in the country. Enrique Marcarian / Reuters
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RIYADH // Thomas Bach, the IOC president, has discussed the issue of women's participation in sports with Saudi Arabia's Olympics chief.

Bach held talks in Riyadh with Prince Nawaf Faisal Fahd bin Abdul Aziz, an IOC member and president of the national Olympic committee in the country.

The IOC said that Bach promised “full support” for the country’s sports development strategy through 2020.

The plan includes “proposals to increase women’s participation in the Olympic Games and in sport in general.”

Saudi women largely are banned from participating in sports in the kingdom, although there are several football and basketball clubs that play in clandestine leagues.

After prolonged negotiations with the IOC, Saudi Arabia sent women to the Olympics for the first time, in 2012, with two women competing at the London Games.

Saudi Arabia hopes to increase women’s participation at the 2016 Games at Rio de Janeiro by introducing better training, particularly at the university level, the IOC said.

The IOC said Bach offered to work with international sports federations to draft a programme for greater Saudi participation and help raise awareness of Olympic sports in the kingdom.

Bach’s visit to Saudi Arabia concluded a four-day trip to the region that also included stops in Kuwait and Qatar.

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