Religion and the Olympics

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London 2012

The Olympic Games are based on the foundation of equality and brotherhood. Yet religion has always played a huge role in the Olympic Games and 2012 is no exception. London has to prepare for the games in order to cater to athletes of nine different faiths. Religious issues taken into account include the obligations of Sikhs to wear daggers, Christians not participating in events on Sundays, and Muslims observing the Ramadan fast. Different religions have specific dietary restrictions; Kosher, halal, and vegetarian options must be available for athletes and spectators. Other issues include specific gender attire including head coverings, scheduling around sabbath days, and religious terrorism. The London Olympic committee has stated that athletes will be “heavily punished” if they choose not to participate for reasons other than injury.

According to the BBC, the Olympic venue will provide a prayer room at every venue as well as multi-faith center, managed by specific representatives from each faith. There has also been a faith services team developed that will have ‘break-a-fast’ meals for Muslims observing Ramadan during the Games. In addition to the packed meals, a specific dining facility will be accessible 24 hours a day.

The London Olympic committee has been preparing for more than just dietary needs. In prior games, religious terrorism has played a significant role. The committee this year must be prepared and have regulations and safety programs in place for all the athletes and spectators.

At the 1972 Olympics in Munich, 11 Israeli athletes were murdered by the Palestinian terrorist group Black September. The International Olympic Committee has been urged to honor the memory of the 11 Israeli athletes at the London summer games. The 2012 games will mark the 40 year anniversary of the murder.

A petition started by Ankie Spitzer, whose husband was killed, is asking for just a moment of silence to remember the eleven athletes, coaches, and referees murdered, in order to promote peace. The moment of silence would be a reminder that hate crimes have no place at the Games. Unfortunately the request was denied by the olympic committee.

The Jerusalem Post just released an article stating President Shimon Peres cancelled his trip to the opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games because a hotel within walking distance of the ceremony was unavailable. Opening ceremonies will be held on a Friday evening, the Jewish Sabbath. Peres chose to refrain from attending the opening ceremonies rather than dishonor the Sabbath. The Sabbath is one of many religious practices the Olympic committee must consider when scheduling the Olympic events.

According to The Telegraph, religious symbols have been banned at the games this year in order to not offend people. The idea of a faith badge representing all faiths was even rejected for the fact that some religions would feel uncomfortable wearing symbols of other faiths.

Overall, religion has always played a significant role in the Olympic Games and the 2012 games are no are no exception. With diverse cultures come diverse customs, beliefs, and ideals. The Olympic Games are based on the foundation of equality and brotherhood and all groups deserve to feel safe participating.

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