Inside Lines: Protests at 2012 if Saudis say 'no girls allowed'

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The Independent Online

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.

Qatar have announced that their squad will feature a "small contingent" of women for the first time in London, a decision perhaps accelerated by the international spotlight on their World Cup bid. Only three countries – Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Brunei, who rarely send any athletes to the Olympics – among the IOC's 205 member nations have never been represented by female competitors since women made their debut in Paris 110 years ago. Now Anita DeFrantz, the former US Olympic rowing medallist who chairs the IOC's influential Women and Sports Commission, says patience is wearing thin and it is time the Saudis changed their policy or face being barred from the Games. Should Saudi Arabia, where women are not allowed to play or watch sport in public, 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. "We keep asking them why not," says the 58-year-old lawyer DeFrantz. "But I am hopeful that by 2012 every National Olympic Committee will have competitive opportunities for women." Knowing the Saudi authorities, she would be unwise to bet on it.

Davies Jnr takes gamble

The resignation last week of the Betfair managing director, Mark Davies, one of the gaming industry's best-known figures, has caused a stir in betting circles. The son of the BBC commentator Barry, the former Cambridge cox Davies, 39, has quit the punter-friendly internet betting exchange he helped found after 10 years in which he became a key figure in their global success. As Betfair's public face, he has been behind many of the events sponsored by the company. He is to start his own consultancy and writes on his blog: "I haven't been able to offer Betfair as much as I'd like so it's time to move on." Meantime, dad warbles on mellifluously at Wimbledon, where he has managed to upset the PC brigade by suggesting that teenager Tara Moore was "chunkily built".

Militant Small faces ban

The former British light-middleweight champion Anthony Small has always been one of the sport's more obnoxious creatures, bigger of mouth than talent. He is even more unlikeable now he has changed his name to Abdul Haqq and was last seen screaming "murderers" at British troops returning from Afghanistan. At 28, he says he intends to continue, though the British Boxing Board of Control may have other ideas and his manager, Frank Warren, has dropped him, saying: "He's a disgrace."

Gary's different strokes

The former Walker Cup captain Gary Wolstenholme is living proof that old golfers never die, they just go on to show the kids how it is done. A few days short of his 50th birthday, Wolstenholme has won his first tournament as a pro, the PGA's Stoke Nayland Championship, by four strokes, beating some of the country's best young 'uns in the process.