First Muslim woman at the Games

Halet CambelThe Olympic Museum


While individuals may encounter difficulties in life simply because of their gender, skin colour, religion or country of origin, the Games, with the diversity of the athletes who take part, champion the right to be different.   Participating at the Games may not change the world, but it can certainly help make a difference.

Halet Cambel (1936-08-04)The Olympic Museum

Quand le masque remplace le voile


When a mask replaced the veil.

In 1936 in Berlin, there was nothing to differentiate Halet Cambel, a Muslim athlete, from the other female Olympians.

Her participation in the individual foil event was a testament to the opening-up of her country, Turkey, and the secularism promoted by the Turkish President, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, who advocated abolishing the veiling of women.

At the Games, it was a fencing mask that covered her face.

In later years, the situation was very different for Morocco’s Nawal El Moutawakel (Los Angeles 1984) and Algeria’s Hassiba Boulmerka (Barcelona 1992): both defied the religious restrictions in their respective countries by running in shorts and with their heads uncovered.

Halet Cambel, 1936-08-04, From the collection of: The Olympic Museum
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Useful information about The Olympic Museum in Lausanne www.olympic.org/museum

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