Saudi Arabia’s, Brunei’s and Qatar’s decision to send female athletes to London makes the 2012 Games the first where every country has a woman on its team. Egypt has the most Muslim women in their team compared with any other Arab or Islamic nations at the London 2012 Olympics. Despite their political instability, Egypt has 36 female Olympians, which is the largest female delegation it has ever sent.

Their biggest hurdle preventing girls from taking up sports is religious extremism, particularly for those living in conservative Muslim countries. Although there is nothing in the Quran forbidding women and girls from exercising and playing sports, religious scholars are making Islam more restrictive than it should be through misinterpretations. They disregard the fact that Islam encourages health and fitness for both men and women.

Natalija Šepul