First Islamic woman named to Int'l Olympic Committee


Olympic gold medalist Nawal el Moutawakel Bennis of Morocco became the first woman from an Islamic nation to be named to the International Olympic Committee (IOC), one of nine new IOC members selected Thursday.

The appointment of Bennis and gold medal sprinter Irena Szewinska of Poland, who were named as new members at the 107th Session of the IOC in Nagano, brings the number of women currently in the IOC to 12 out of a total membership of 118 -- more than the IOC's announced goal of 10 percent.

The IOC has set a goal of seeing 10 percent of the administrative posts in sports organizations filled by women by the year 2000, and 20 percent by the year 2005.

Bennis became the first woman from an Islamic nation to win a gold medal when she took top honors in the 400-meter hurdles at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. The win also made her Morocco's first Olympic champion.

Poland's Szewinska participated in five Olympic Games and won a total of seven sprinting medals -- three of them gold. She has held world records 10 times at distances from 100 to 400 meters.

Also named to the IOC were Maj. Gen. Mounir Sabet of Egypt, Prince Henri of Luxembourg and Meliton Sanchez Rivas of Panama.

Other new members include Dr. Leopold Wallner, president of the Austrian Olympic committee, Prince Willem-Alexander, heir to the throne of the Netherlands, Ser Miang Ng of Singapore and former weightlifting world champion Mohammad Samih Moudallal of Syria.

The IOC's longest serving member, Grand Duke Jean of Luxembourg, who was appointed in 1946, announced his retirement and was awarded the Olympic Order of Gold.

(Kyodo News)

(February 5, 1998)