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Sex discrimination, War and Terrorism

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Sex discrimination

Women were first allowed to compete at the 1900 Summer Olympics in Paris, but at the 1992 Summer Olympics 35 countries were still only fielding all-male delegations. This number dropped rapidly over the following years. In 2000, Bahrain sent two women competitors for the first time: Fatema Hameed Gerashi and Mariam Mohamed Hadi Al Hilli. In 2004, Robina Muqimyar and Fariba Rezayee became the first women to compete for Afghanistan at the Olympics. In 2008, the United Arab Emirates sent female athletes (Maitha Al Maktoum competed in taekwondo, and Latifa Al Maktoum in equestrian) to the Olympic Games for the first time. Both athletes were from Dubai's ruling family.

By 2010, only three countries had never sent female athletes to the Games: Brunei, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar. Brunei had taken part in only three celebrations of the Games, sending a single athlete on each occasion, but Saudi Arabia and Qatar had been competing regularly with all-male teams. In 2010, the International Olympic Committee announced it would "press" these countries to enable and facilitate the participation of women for the 2012 Summer Olympics. Anita DeFrantz, chair of the IOC's Women and Sports Commission, suggested that countries be barred if they prevented women from competing. Shortly thereafter, the Qatar Olympic Committee announced that it "hoped to send up to four female athletes in shooting and fencing" to the 2012 Summer Games in London.

In 2008, Ali Al-Ahmed, director of the Institute for Gulf Affairs, likewise called for Saudi Arabia to be barred from the Games, describing its ban on women athletes as a violation of the International Olympic Committee charter. He noted: "For the last 15 years, many international nongovernmental organisations worldwide have been trying to lobby the IOC for better enforcement of its own laws banning gender discrimination. ... While their efforts did result in increasing numbers of women Olympians, the IOC has been reluctant to take a strong position and threaten the discriminating countries with suspension or expulsion." In July 2010, The Independent reported: "Pressure is growing on the International Olympic Committee to kick out Saudi Arabia, who are likely to be the only major nation not to include women in their Olympic team for 2012. ... Should Saudi Arabia ... send a male-only team to London, we understand they will face protests from equal rights and women's groups which threaten to disrupt the Games".

At the 2012 Olympic Games in London, United Kingdom, for the first time in Olympic history, every country competing included female athletes. Saudi Arabia included two female athletes in its delegation; Qatar, four; and Brunei, one (Maziah Mahusin, in the 400m hurdles). Qatar made one of its first female Olympians, Bahiya al-Hamad (shooting), its flagbearer at the 2012 Games, and runner Maryam Yusuf Jamal of Bahrain became the first Gulf female athlete to win a medal when she won a bronze for her showing in the 1500 m race.

The only sport on the Olympic programme that features men and women competing together is the equestrian disciplines. There is no "Women's Eventing", or 'Men's Dressage'. As of 2008, there were still more medal events for men than women. With the addition of women's boxing to the programme in the 2012 Summer Olympics, however, female athletes were able to compete in all the same sports as men. In the winter Olympics, women are still unable to compete in the Nordic combined. There are currently two Olympic events in which male athletes may not compete: synchronised swimming and rhythmic gymnastics.

War and terrorism
Three Olympiads had to pass without a celebration of the Games because of war: the 1916 Games were cancelled because of World War I, and the summer and winter games of 1940 and 1944 were cancelled because of World War II. The Russo-Georgian War between Georgia and Russia erupted on the opening day of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. Both President Bush and Prime Minister Putin were attending the Olympics at that time and spoke together about the conflict at a luncheon hosted by Chinese president Hu Jintao.

Terrorism most directly affected the Olympic Games in 1972. When the Summer Games were held in Munich, Germany, eleven members of the Israeli Olympic team were taken hostage by the Palestinian terrorist group Black September in what is now known as the Munich massacre. The terrorists killed two of the athletes soon after they had taken them hostage and killed the other nine during a failed liberation attempt. A German police officer and five terrorists also perished. Following the selection of Barcelona, Spain to host the 1992 Summer Olympics, the separatist ETA terrorist organisation launched attacks in the region, including the 1991 Vic bombing that killed ten people in a town that would also hold events.

Terrorism affected the last two Olympic Games held in the United States. During the Summer Olympics in 1996 in Atlanta, Georgia, a bomb was detonated at the Centennial Olympic Park, which killed two and injured 111 others. The bomb was set by Eric Rudolph, an American domestic terrorist, who is currently serving a life sentence for the bombing. The 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah, took place just five months after the September 11 attacks, which meant a higher level of security than ever before provided for an Olympic Games. The opening ceremonies of the Games featured symbols of the day's events. They included the flag that flew at Ground Zero and honour guards of NYPD and FDNY members.

Colonialism
The Olympic Games have been criticized as upholding (and in some cases increasing) the colonial policies and practices of some host nations and cities either in the name of the Olympics by associated parties or directly by official Olympic bodies, such as the International Olympic Committee, host organising committees and official sponsors.

Critics have argued that the Olympics have engaged in or caused: erroneous anthropological and colonial knowledge production; erasure; commodification and appropriation of indigenous ceremonies and symbolism; theft and inappropriate display of indigenous objects; further encroachment on and support of the theft of indigenous lands; and neglect and/or intensification of poor social conditions for indigenous peoples. Such practices have been observed at: the 1904 Summer Olympics in St. Louis, MO; the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal, Quebec; the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, Alberta; the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China; the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, BC; the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, England; the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Krasnodar Krai and the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, China.

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