Ramadan Olympics Challenge Muslim Athletes

Muslim athletes, like these in Afghanistan, face extra challenges when competing during the Ramadan fast.Muslim athletes, like these in Afghanistan, face extra challenges when competing during the Ramadan fast.
x
Muslim athletes, like these in Afghanistan, face extra challenges when competing during the Ramadan fast.
Muslim athletes, like these in Afghanistan, face extra challenges when competing during the Ramadan fast.
Al Pessin
LONDON — When the summer Olympic Games open in London later this month, Muslims worldwide, including many elite athletes, will be observing the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

Muslim Olympic hopefuls face the prospect of competing at the highest levels while abstaining from all food and drink during the long days of the London summer. And, that’s not their only challenge.

Observant Muslims wake up in the middle of the night to eat before the fast begins. In London, the Ramadan pre-dawn meal will be at about four o’clock in the morning.  

However, sleep deprivation might be the bigger problem for athletes.

“During the month of Ramadan, athletes - or those who want to keep the fast - they have to wake up in the early morning to eat something," says Muhammad Abdul Bari, the director of London’s biggest mosque and a member of the London Olympic Organizing Committee. "That means they will have to deprive themselves of sleep.  And, how that will affect [them] depends on individual resilience, individual practice, determination and spirit.”

Many Muslim athletes will be unaccustomed to the long summer days at London’s northern latitude, which this year results in a 17-hour fast.

The interpretation of Ramadan rules varies, but there is no automatic exemption for athletes.  According to Bari, Muslim athletes deal with this problem for some competition almost every year.

“It depends on [the] individual athlete and their national Olympic team," he says. "And probably those who are practicing [Muslims], they will ask the scholars, theologians, as to what they can do.”

Olympic organizers are making an effort to help Muslim Olympians cope. In addition to providing Halal food 24 hours a day, special evening snack packs for breaking the fast will be available at all venues and a team of chaplains will be on hand to help.

Tens of thousands of spectators and staff members will also be observing the fast.  

The chief chaplain of the London Olympics says officials are making allowances for Muslim staff members.

“We’ve done a staff managers briefing to ensure that staff who are observing Ramadan and fasting are not in the middle of a car park in sunshine all day," says Canon Duncan Green of Britain’s Anglican Church, "or not on a very strenuous job where they are going to need lots of liquid refreshment.”

Canon Green says the 2012 Olympics were bound to overlap with Ramadan, because of  Olympic Committee requirements and the need to make use of transport assets and volunteers available in London during the summer vacation season.

But the Muslim Olympic athletes, spectators and staff members will not be alone in facing the effects of Ramadan, considering all of the coaches, cooks, doctors and dozens of Muslim Olympic chaplains standing by to help them.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs