By Orla Chennaoui. Last Updated: 08/03/12 7:26pm
Seb Coe: Criticised for not speaking against Saudi
On International Women's Day it's somewhat timely that Human Rights Watch have expressed their disappointment at LOCOG's silence over Saudi Arabia's ban on female Olympians.
The Middle Eastern Kingdom has never sent a female athlete to the Olympics, and doesn't seem to intend to any time soon.
The human rights campaign group has already called on the IOC to ban the Saudis from London 2012 over their policy, after producing a report accusing them of 'systematic discrimination'.
Now Christophe Wilcke, the senior researcher behind the report tells me he's disappointed the London organisers have 'not been vocal at all' on the issue, and is planning to meet them to try to convince them to change their minds
Actually, Wilcke says he did meet with Seb Coe very briefly on the matter, who promised to look at the matter.
Since then though he feels LOCOG have distanced themselves from the matter, saying the aim of the London Olympics isn't to change domestic policy in any other country.
Which is true. To an extent.
Except that London 2012 has been used, most admirably, to do exactly that through 'International Inspiration', a movement aimed at getting 12 million more kids and young adults into sport in 20 different countries.
I myself went to see the programme in action in Jordan three years ago and was most impressed with how the Olympic powers-that-be were working with the Jordanian royal family to establish sporting programmes.
I was taken to a Palestinian refugee camp to see how sport is being used to help the most destitute of children who don't even have running water, never mind a sports hall.
I met inspirational young women taking part in sporting programmes both as athletes and as mentors, creating an environment where girls felt comfortable taking part in sport.
I came home genuinely inspired by how the Olympic spirit can be used as a force for good internationally, if only it's acted on, and harnessed in the correct way.
Trite? Naive? Regardless, it's true.
Which is why this refusal to even add a voice in opposition to the Saudis disgraceful attitude to women in sport is so disappointing.
Sure, it's not for Seb Coe or anyone on LOCOG to tell any country how to behave.
And no-one's expecting for a minute that a word or two from the nice folk at London 2012 will make the Saudis suddenly change their minds.
But they certainly won't change their minds if they're under no pressure to do so.
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