updated 4 Aug 2012, 20:29
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Sun, Jul 29, 2012
The Yomiuri Shimbun/Asia News Network
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2012 Olympics historic event for women
by Nobuaki Ono

LONDON - As cheers rang out through the Olympic Stadium, female athletes wearing hijabs marched in firmly holding their national flags in the opening ceremony of the London Games.

Qatar's flag-bearer was Bahya Mansour Al Hamad, 20, who competes in women's shooting. It was the first time in Olympic history for her country to send female athletes. Al Hamad said she was proud to represent her country as a woman.

She was also the flag-bearer for her nation at the first Youth Olympic Games held in 2010 in Singapore. She looked tense at that event, and said she was therefore determined to smile while marching in the Olympic opening ceremony.

The International Olympic Committee asked Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Brunei, which had not sent female athletes to previous Games for religious and other reasons, to allow women to participate in the London Games.

The London Games is the first modern Olympics in which women are competing in all events and in which all participating countries and territories have sent female athletes.

The many female flag-bearers in the opening ceremony were symbols of this progress.

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