For 30 years, South Africa was banned from the Olympic Games because of its practice of apartheid. Now a group of French feminists have called on the International Olympic Committee to exclude Iran and South Africa from this year’s Games because they impose “sexual apartheid”: They do not allow women to attend men’s sports events.

Writing in the online newsletter New York Times Women in the World, Emma-Kate Symons points out how harsh the ban can be: For a woman in Iran, even entering a stadium is a crime: The feminists “cited the notorious 2014 example of Anglo-Iranian Ghoncheh Ghavami, who was imprisoned for five months in Iran’s infamous Evin prison for trying to attend a men’s volleyball game in the capital.”

In Saudi Arabia, girls and women cannot participate in sports at schools and public colleges. And yet both countries are signatories to the Olympic charter, which states that the practice of sport is a human right and that each individual must have the possibility to play sport without discrimination of any sort. And, the feminists argue, according to Chapter 1, “the International Olympic Committee has given itself the mission of promoting male-female equality.”

The French feminists deplore the IOC’s unwillingness to uphold that mission; “The IOC knew how to condemn racial apartheid and exclude South Africa from the games for 30 years, just as it knew recently how to suspend the Russian athletics federation because of institutionalized doping, and to suspend Kuwait on the basis of governmental interference in local sporting bodies. . . . . If only it would have the courage to exclude Saudi Arabia and Iran from the Olympic Games!”

Read more at The New York Times


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