1. Headline
  1. Headline
Image: Sarah Attar
Daniel Ochoa De Olza  /  AP
Saudi Arabia's Sarah Attar competes in a women's 800-meter heat  at the 2012 Summer Olympics on Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2012.
By
NBC News
updated 8/12/2012 10:54:45 AM ET 2012-08-12T14:54:45

Officials will work to improve women’s access to sports in countries where it is restricted but it could take 10 years before significant progress is made, Jacques Rogge, the head of the Olympic movement, said Sunday.

Three countries -- Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Brunei -- sent women to the Games for the first time, making London 2012 the first to have female competitors from every participating nation.

At a press conference at the Olympic Park, Rogge was asked what would be done to ensure these were not simply “token appearances.”

“We are going to continue to discuss with the local authorities and sports ministries and try to find strategies and solutions to improve the situation,” he said.

“It will take time. The ideal situation will not be found tomorrow. This is work for probably a decade at least to see major improvements,” he added.

Image: Jacques Rogge
Cameron Spencer  /  Getty Images
IOC president Jacques Rogge says on the whole he was "very happy" with how the London 2012 Olympic Games turned out.

There was a roar from the crowd in the main Olympic stadium when Saudi Arabian 800-meter runner Sarah Attar, who also has U.S. citizenship, was introduced for a heat on Wednesday last week. She waved and smiled in response.

Olympics bring pride, hope to Afghanistan

Running covered from head to toe except for her face, she was quickly faded from the field, finishing last with a time of 2 minutes 44.95 seconds, nearly a minute off the world record of 1 minute 53.28 seconds.

After the race, she told U.K. broadcaster the BBC that her run wasn’t about winning, but was for women in Saudi Arabia, saying she hoped it would "make a difference" and that "it sparks something amazing.”

At Sunday’s press conference, Rogge said the participation of athletes from such countries -- where women do not have equal access to sports -- had been “a very important one.”Saudi Olympian allowed to compete in judo wearing hijab

“It opened the door for more and definitely it was a very strong signal,” he said.

Speaking generally, Rogge said the IOC only got involved in human rights issues that impacted the Olympics, such as the working conditions of people who build the venues, child labor used to make sports equipment, and compensation for people forced out of their homes to make way for the Games.

  1. More from TODAY.com
    1. TODAY's Takeaway: Anchors reveal prom pics; staffers' kids take over

      1. After TODAY producers surprised Tamron Hall by revealing her prom photo on Wednesday, we were inspired to collect #TODA...

    2. Surprise! Stranger captures sweet sidewalk proposal in 'magical' photos
    3. Girl hands her jobless dad's resume to Michelle Obama
    4. Size them up! Babies pose next to monstrous burritos
    5. Roaring guitars, purring pets: Who knew metalheads were so mushy about cats?

“We’re not for general issues of humans rights, like whether there should be a death penalty or not,” he said.

Military to fill empty seats at London Olympics

Rogge said on the whole he was “very happy” with London 2012, picking out a string of highlights including the performances of multiple gold-medal winners Usain Bolt of Jamaica, Michael Phelps of the U.S. and Chris Hoy of the U.K., saying the tears of the latter had been his moment of the Games.Islam in the Olympics: All countries send women

However, asked about problems getting tickets in person and on the Internet, Rogge admitted this would be looked at before the next Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 2016.

Particularly at the start of London 2012, there were many empty seats at some venues, although the main stadium was packed for most of the athletics events.

Read more from NBC News about the Olympics

“We’re definitely going to review the ticketing policy of the games,” Rogge said. “We’re going to see whether this system [the ticket distribution system] can continue to work. The venues were full and that’s the most important thing.”

© 2013 NBCNews.com  Reprints

Photos: Emotional Moments: Opening Ceremony

loading photos...
  1. Fireworks light up the night over the Olympic Stadium and the Aquatics Arena during the Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Park on July 27, 2012 in London, England. (Mike Hewitt / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Steve Redgrave, right, holds up the Olympic torch after entering the stadium during the Opening Ceremony. (Cameron Spencer / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Spectators are illuminated during the Opening Ceremony. (Cameron Spencer / Pool via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Sir Paul McCartney performs during the Opening Ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics. (Mark Humphrey / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, left, officially opens the London Games during the Opening Ceremony. (John Stillwell / Pool via Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Fireworks burst above the Olympic Stadium during the Opening Ceremony. (Michael Regan / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Jamaica's flagbearer Usain Bolt leads his country's delegation during the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games. (Ben Stansall / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Boxing legend Muhammad Ali, seated, takes part in the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium. (Mike Segar / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Members of Iran's delegation parade during the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games. (Olivier Morin / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. The Olympic cauldron is lit during the Opening Ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics. (Mark Baker / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Professional basketball player LeBron James takes pictures with members of Team USA during the Opening Ceremony. (Matt Slocum / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. U.S. Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney, left, and his wife Ann applaud as the USA team enters the stadium during the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympics. (Jae C. Hong / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Members of Team USA celebrate as they walk in Opening Ceremony. (Frank Gunn / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. The speedboat, bottom left, carrying the Olympic flame, heads to Tower Bridge during the Opening Ceremony. (Vadim Ghirda / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Members of Spain's delegation take part in the athlete's parade in the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games. (Mike Segar / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Danny Boyle, the director of the Opening Ceremony for the 2012 Olympic Games, watches his work unfold. (Toby Melville / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. A performer takes part in the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games. (Phil Noble / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, applaud during the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games. (Pascal Le Segretain / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. Performers take part in the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games. (Adrees Latif / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. Performers flying with jet packs take part in the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games. (Dylan Martinez / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. Performers during the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games. (Ian Langsdon / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. Members of Spain's delegation take part in the athlete's parade during the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games. (Suzanne Plunkett / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. Britain's flag bearer Chris Hoy leads the contingent in the athletes parade during the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games. (Dylan Martinez / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  24. Performers dance in a scene in tribute of The Great Ormond Street Hospital for sick children and the NHS during the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games. (Lars Baron / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  25. Performers take part in the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games. (David Gray / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  26. Spectators attend the Opening Ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics. (David Goldman / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  27. Journalists, with their computer terminals covered to protect them from the rain, watch the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games. (Kai Pfaffenbach / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  28. Performers illustrate fairy tales during the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games. (Andy Rain / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  29. Members of the Australia team parade into the stadium during the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games. (Lars Baron / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  30. Performers dance in a scene depicting the struggle between life and death during the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games. (Michael Regan / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  31. Spectators wave their national flags at Trafalgar Square in downtown London to watch a clock countdown before the Opening Ceremony the 2012 Summer Olympics. (Sergey Ponomarev / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  32. Actors perform during the Opening Ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics. (David J. Phillip / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  33. Artists perform as a chimney emerges from the ground to symbolize the industrial revolution. (Odd Andersen / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  34. Performers take part in the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games. (Suzanne Plunkett / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  35. Actors lying on beds meant to represent Britain's National Health Service (NHS) perform during the Opening Ceremony. (Jae C. Hong / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  36. Performers take part in the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games, with the large figure representing Lord Voldemort from the Harry Potter books. (Dylan Martinez / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  37. British actor Rowan Atkinson, in his role as Mr. Bean, takes pictures with his phone during a musical number in the Opening Ceremony. (Cameron Spencer / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  38. David Beckham passes under Tower Bridge driving a speedboat named 'Max Power' which carries the Olympic Torch with its torchbearer. (Matthew Lloyd / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  39. Performers take part in the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games. (Kai Pfaffenbach / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  40. Actors perform in a sequence meant to represent Britain's National Health Service (NHS) perform during the Opening Ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics. (Jae C. Hong / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  41. A general view of a preshow at the Olympic Stadium before the opening ceremony. (Pawel Kopczynski / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  42. A drummer performs during the opening ceremony. (Kai Pfaffenbach / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  43. Performers dressed as the character Mary Poppins descend to the ground during the opening ceremony. (Mike Blake / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  44. The Red Arrows, the Royal Air Force aerobatic team, fly over Olympic Park during the Opening Ceremony. (Hannah Johnston / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  45. Actors stand under the rain during a British meadow scene prior to the opening ceremony. (Leon Neal / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  46. Spectators shelter from the rain with newspapers ahead of the Opening Ceremony. (Matt Dunham / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  47. Singh Sodhi, left, Vijay Kumar Malhotra and Krishna Malhotra wear 3D-glasses before the Opening Ceremony. (Christian Charisius / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  48. Britain's Prince Charles, left, and his wife Camila, Duchess of Cornwall, arrive for the Opening Ceremony. (Jae C. Hong / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  49. Performers stand during a scene showing a pre-industrial rural England at the pre-show of the Opening Ceremony. (Mike Blake / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  50. Rings representing both the Olympics and the Industrial Revolution are lit during the Opening Ceremony. (Quinn Rooney / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  1. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  2. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  3. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  4. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  1. Image: Olympics - Opening Day
    Mike Hewitt / Getty Images
    Above: Slideshow (50) Olympics Opening Ceremony
  2. Image: Lighting Ceremony of the Olympic Flame
    Orestis Panagiotou / EPA
    Slideshow (50) Olympic torch carries the flame to London 2012 - Torch relay
  3. Image:
    LOCOG via AP
    Slideshow (31) Olympic torch carries the flame to London 2012 - Venues
  4. Image: security check
    Michael Kappeler / EPA
    Slideshow (15) Olympic torch carries the flame to London 2012 - Security
  5. Image: London 2012 - Famous Landmarks Of Iconic London
    Oli Scarff / Getty Images
    Slideshow (36) Olympic torch carries the flame to London 2012 - City sights

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,

Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments

More on TODAY.com

TODAY's Takeaway
  1. TODAY; TIME

    Anchors reveal prom pics; staffers’ kids take over

    4/24/2014 9:19:26 PM +00:00 2014-04-24T21:19:26
  1. Courtesy of Jennae Zuloaga

    Surprise! Stranger captures sweet sidewalk proposal in ‘magical’ photos

    4/24/2014 10:23:52 PM +00:00 2014-04-24T22:23:52
  1. Gorditos Healthy Mexican Food

    Size them up! Babies pose next to monstrous burritos

    4/24/2014 9:27:30 PM +00:00 2014-04-24T21:27:30
  1. Kevin Lamarque / Reuters

    Girl hands her jobless dad's resume to Michelle Obama

    4/24/2014 6:14:48 PM +00:00 2014-04-24T18:14:48
  1. Anikasalsera / Featurepics.com

    Green cleaning: 9 D-I-Y natural cleaners that actually work

    4/24/2014 7:13:55 PM +00:00 2014-04-24T19:13:55