Ramadan 2012 and Olympic Athletes


Over the past 6 weeks, living in London has presented me with numerous opportunities to learn more about the culture, visit iconic places, meet new friends, and also see how the city is preparing to host the 2012 Olympic games. During my time in London, there have been constant newspaper articles, BBC reports, and gossip papers about the 2012 games. A topic that has caused different controversies in the games involves various religious morals and practices of numerous religions. One of these controversies includes the Islam practice of Ramadan; this religious practice not only reflects the Islam religion but also causes some problems for Islam athletes competing in the games.

Ramadan is a fasting practice that Muslims participate in for a month once a year. During this month of fasting, Muslims are to restrain from food, drinking, and sexual acts from sunrise to sunset in order to learn self-restraint. During the 2012 Olympics in London this summer, there are about 3500 Islam athletes that are competing and have prepared all their lives these games. How are they supposed to have enough carbohydrates, protein, and energy to be physically ready and healthy for their events? This is where the controversy arises; do the Islam athletes not practice a very important religious holiday or do they practice the holiday and be at much less of an advantage than their competitors?

The foundation of the Islamic religion is based on the five pillars of Islam which consist of 5 different acts and beliefs required for all Muslims. These pillars include believing that there is no god but God, praying five times a day, donating 2.5% of assets to poor/needy, fasting, and to journey to Mecca at least once. Fasting, especially during the month of Ramadan, is obligatory for people of this faith. This year, Ramadan takes place from July 20th till the 18th of August; exactly when the Olympic games occur.

image from Many Muslim Athletes to Fast After London Olympics article

For the Olympic competitors that are Muslim, the athletes and people of the Islamic faith have made some decisions about how to deal with this issue. The article Many Muslim Athletes to Fast After London Olympics, explains how most Muslim athletes are going to postpone fasting until after the games are over, by giving back to the poor, or participating in community work in order to still compete in the games. Also, different Islamic councils are getting involved on the discussion of this topic including the High Olympic Egyptian Islamic. This council “gave athletes a reprieve by announcing a fatwa, or religious edict, stating that Olympic athletes are not required to fast during coaching or competition.” This is very essential to this topic because the fatwa is giving religious permission, allowing a mandatory act of Islam to have an exception. A point that was made in the article however was that the coaches and officials who are Muslim will be fasting because “they aren’t making as much effort as the athletes,” showing how this is strictly for athletes and should still be practiced by anyone who is able to.

Even though most Muslims who are participating in the summer 2012 Olympic games in London aren’t going to fast due to different reasons, the London Olympic games still made the point that “they are trying to facilitate and accommodate all those athletes who decide to fast and compete during the Olympics” as stated in the article Many Muslim Athletes to Fast After London Olympics. There are many different controversies and problems that have and will happen during the Olympics involving religion and many others. The combination of Ramadan and the Olympics isn’t ideal but the Muslim population has made decisions and exceptions that they see appropriate and leave the decision up to the athlete.



“Five Pillars of Islam.” Five Pillars of Islam. Islam 101, n.d. Web. 26 July 2012. <http://www.islam101.com/dawah/pillars.html&gt;.

Surk, BARBARA. “Many Muslim Athletes to Fast after London Olympics.” Huff Post: SPORTS. N.p., 20 July 2012. Web. 26 July 2012. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/huff-wires/20120720/oly-ramadan-olympics/&gt;.

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