(Egypt's Eman Gaber (R) and teammate Rana El Husseiny wearing hijab headscarves take off their helmets during round 16 of the women's team foil fencing match at the London 2012 Olympic Games August 2, 2012. REUTERS/Adrees Latif)

Headscarf-wearing Muslim women are making strides at the Olympic Games, a year after the Iranian women’s soccer team broke down in tears at having to withdraw from a qualifying match because they wore hijabs.

Worn under a fencing mask, wrapped tightly in an elasticated bun for weightlifting or styled into a cap for shooting, the controversial headgear is finally winning acceptance from sporting associations.

This week judo sports authorities and the Saudi Olympic Committee confirmed they had reached an agreement allowing a Saudi judoka to compete with her hair covered, and last month soccer’s rule makers also lifted their ban on the hijab.

The International Judo Federation had initially said Wojdan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shaherkani could not compete in a headscarf, which would have been a huge blow to aspiring Saudi sportswomen: she and runner Sarah Attar are the country’s first women to compete at any Olympics.