We’re LIVE from London eagerly awaiting the opening ceremony for the 2012 Summer Olympic Games this coming Friday. However, while most athletes and fans are celebrating the upcoming sport festivities, Muslim athletes are in uproar over a final decision by the International Olympic Committee not to hold all competitions in which Muslim athletes are to compete in during nighttime.
The Islamic holy month of Ramadan started on July 20 and will end on August 18, which unfortunately coincides with the dates of 2012 London Olympic Games starting July 27 and ending August 12.
Muslims are required to abstain from food and drink between sunrise and sunset during the 30-day month of Ramadan. What’s even more unfortunate, summer days are long in London – they last 18 hours, which gives Muslim athletes only a few hours every night to have a meal during the entire Games.
Thus, 3,500 Muslim athletes expected to compete at the London Olympics are facing a dilemma of Olympian proportions since such rigorous fasting won’t allow them to keep their competitive edge.
Among the most effected by fasting are Muslim athletes participating at a heptathlon or pentathlon. They’ll have respectively seven or five different grueling events to compete in, and such irregular diet most likely won’t allow them to complete all of them.
Many Islamic sport organizations have been appealing to the International Olympic Committee over past weeks asking to move certain events to nighttime to allow Muslim athletes eat and drink during the competition. However, all petitions were rejected and called ill-timed and outright bizarre. The Olympic Committee has issued a statement in which they point out that the dates for 2012 Summer Olympic Games have been set several years ago and, since the Muslim World did not raise their concerns at the time, it’s much too late to do so now.
Muslim athletes are very frustrated and will start widespread protests on July 27, the opening day of London Olympics. It’s not clear what they plan to accomplish at such a late time, when the Olympic Games are about to start. It’s also unclear what form these protests will take.
Reportedly, some Muslim athletes are planning to start a hunger strike, but this idea seems a bit redundant considering their present situation. Some are proposing to boycott their respective disciplines, but, again, they will be unable to compete anyway.
In an official statement, the Supreme Muslim Council has proclaimed its support to all Muslim athletes and encouraged them to give up their protests, and have faith that Allah will help them to endure all sport events on empty stomachs but full spirit.