The fact that this year’s Olympic Games coincides with the Islamic holy month of Ramadan has left a lot of Muslim athletes in a dilemma of whether to observe the fast or not as they would be required to abstain from food and drink from dawn to dusk during the 30-day month of Ramadan, which began on Friday in most countries.
About 3,500 Muslim athletes expected to compete at the London Olympics. And, during long summer days in London, observing the Ramadan simply means eighteen (18) hours of fasting – something that many Muslim athletes consider impossible to do without losing their competitive edge.
Already, some of the affected athletes are already lamenting:
“I could not fast. I need all that stuff, like protein, carbs and minerals,” says Egyptian kayaker Mustafa Saied in a statement made to The Associated Press. He however pointed out that, “I can do it after Ramadan and Allah will accept it because there was an important reason.”
However, there are provisions for situations like this. Some have looked for Islamic tenets that allow exemptions from fasting, such as for those travelling. Others decided to postpone fasting until after competitions, and some will compensate for the lost days with charity work or by donating to the poor.
Meanwhile, succour has come in the form of the High Egyptian Islamic Council which gave athletes a reprieve by announcing a fatwa (or religious edict), stating that Olympic athletes are not required to fast during coaching or competition.