Saudi judo athlete Wodjan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shahrkhani arrives with her father at a London airport on Wednesday. (AFP)
LONDON: Saudi judoka Wojdan Shaherkani faces an Olympic Games controversy after being told she cannot wear the hijab head scarf when she is fighting.
The 18-year-old heavyweight, part of a two-woman team sent from the kingdom to an Olympics for the first time, was ordered by International Judo Federation president Marius Vizer to step onto the mat with her head uncovered.
"The Saudi Arabian athlete will take part in judo and she will fight according to the principle and spirit of judo, so without a hijab," said Vizer following Thursday's draw.
Judo applies strict safety rules and any covering on the head is deemed to present a risk to the fighter's health.
Shaherkani is due to take part in the women's judo competition on August 3.
American-raised track and field athlete, Sarah Attar, is the second woman in the Saudi squad in London.