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Saudi women banned from London Olympics

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Saudi women banned from London Olympics
London's Mayor Boris Johnson waves the Olympic flag during the closing ceremonies for the 2008 Summer Olympics at the National Stadium in Beijing on August 23, 2008. (UPI Photo/Terry Schmitt) | License Photo

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia, Feb. 17 (UPI) -- An international human-rights organization said Saudi Arabia has reversed its decision to allow women to participate in the London 2012 Olympics.

Human Rights Watch said Saudi Arabia, which announced three months ago it would permit women to participate in the Games, is now barring female athletes from joining the Saudi team, Bikya Masr reported Friday.

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The organization said Saudi Arabia is violating the Olympic Charter by engaging in gender discrimination and called on the International Olympic Committee to bar Saudi Arabia from the Olympics unless it allows female athletes to participate.

"Human Rights Watch urges the International Olympic Committee to uphold the values of the Olympic Charter and condition Saudi Arabia's participation in the London 2012 Olympics on the country taking steps to end discrimination against women in sports," the group said in a statement.

Anita DeFrantz, the IOC's women's chair, said in 2010 the country could be banned from the Olympics if women are not allowed to be a part of the Saudi team.

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