By Emily Goddard

Thomas Bach and Prince Nawaf Faisal Fahd Bin Abdulaziz meet in Saudia Arabia to discuss women's participation in the Olympics ©Saudi Arabian Olympic CommitteeApril 2 - Thomas Bach, President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), has pledged his support to a Saudi Arabia sports development initiative that could see more of the nation's women competing at Olympic Games.

Bach met with IOC member and Saudi Arabian Olympic Committee President Prince Nawaf Faisal Fahd Bin Abdulaziz as he wrapped up a four-day tour of Gulf states - which also included visits to Kuwait and Qatar - to discuss the future of the sport movement in the conservative Muslim kingdom.

The pair also presented a six-year sports development strategy for the nation, aimed at increasing women's participation at the Rio 2016 Summer Games by introducing better training, particularly at university level.

"President Bach promised full support for the plan, which also included proposals to increase women's participation in the Olympic Games and in sport in general," an IOC statement read.

Wojdan Shaherkani was the first female Saudi Arabian athlete to compete at an Olympic Games ©Getty ImagesWojdan Shaherkani was the first female Saudi Arabian athlete to compete at an Olympic Games when she took part in London 2012 ©Getty Images

Bach has also offered to work with International Federations to create a programme to help raise awareness of all the Olympic sports on offer to athletes in Saudi Arabia.

Although the country has competed in Games since Munich 1972, it was not until 40 years later - at London 2012 - that Saudi women were selected for the team after the Royal Family bowed to pressure amid calls for the nation to be banned from the Olympics for not sending females.

Judoka Wojdan Shaherkani and 800 metres runner Sarah Attar thus became the first female athletes from the nation to compete in an Olympics, although equestrian Dalma Rushdi Malhas had competed at the Singapore 2010 Youth Olympics, winning a bronze.

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