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Ramadan Challenges Muslim Olympians

This year's Olympic Games in London coincides with the holy fasting month of Ramadan

By OnIslam & Newspapers | 11 Jan 2012

CAIRO – As preparations are in full swing for this year’s Olympic Games in London, Muslims athletes face a major challenge as the event coincides with the holy fasting month of Ramadan.

“It will be my first time to compete in Ramadan,” Emarati swimmer Obaid Al Jasimi told Arabian Business on Wednesday, January 11.

“So I thought I would [speak to] some religious people about that before I do it and will see what they tell me.”

Ramadan, the holiest month in Islamic calendar, is expected to start in July through August.

It will coincide with the London Olympics, which is scheduled to start on July 27 to August 12.

An estimated 3,000 Muslim athletes will be vying in the world event, including Jasimi, who will compete in the 100m freestyle and 100m butterfly contest.

“I know that what I will do is a mission for the country so I think they (scholars) will say it is okay I cannot fast in this period of the competition and I can do it after Ramadan,” he said.

In Ramadan, adult Muslims abstain from food, drink, smoking and sex between dawn and sunset.

The sick and those traveling are exempt from fasting especially if it poses health risks.

Muslims dedicate their time during the holy month to be closer to Allah through prayers, self-restraint and good deeds.


Emarati officials see no problem in competing in the world competition during Ramadan.

“I don’t think there will be any problem; our athletes are used to this,” Saeed Abdul Ghaffar Hussain, the secretary general of the UAE's National Olympic Committee, told Arabian Business.

“If you go according to religion, in certain cases it is allowed to break fast but you have to cover that in the later stages.

“But it depends on the individual; some players don’t like to break fast and continue fasting. I think it [comes down] to the individual,” he said.

Some athletes prefer to break fast during Ramadan to maximize their chances of winning Olympic medals.

In July, British Muslim rower Mo Sbihi said he planned to postpone his fasting during this year’s Ramadan.

“It is a massive risk to fast and compete. My power output could decrease, or I could collapse during the race,” he told the UK’s Standard newspaper.

“This is the last Olympics for some people and I would not want to risk their chances or my own. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for all of us, and I would not want to ruin it.”

Abdualraham Amourarah from the UAE’s general authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowment said Islam gives permission to people to break fast in certain cases.

“He will continue his fasting and during his fasting if he feels tired and he cannot continue to complete his fasting up to sunset, he has permission from Islam to break his fast and eat. He will replace it after Ramadan.”



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