Ramadan Olympics Challenge Muslim Athletes
    2012-08-01 09:55:15     CRIENGLISH.com         Web Editor: Mao Yaqing

With the summer Olympics underway in London, Muslims worldwide, including many athletes, are observing the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

Muslim Olympic hopefuls face the challenge of competing at the highest levels while abstaining from all food and drink during the long days of the London summer.

CRI's Emily Henessy has more.


Turkey lost to China 3-1 in women's volleyball at the ongoing London Olympics.

Coach Marco Aurelio Motta said the loss could not be attributed to Ramadan.

"The players eat a normal lunch. They are all Muslims, but they don't do regular Ramadan. That is only a tradition. The players are Muslims in tradition. They eat normally during the day."

For Libyan athletes, it's up to them to decide whether or not to follow the tradition.

Milad Agila is the captain of the Libyan weightlifting team.

"Actually some of them are fasting, and the others are not fasting. They have some food because they get the permission. They have some salad, fruit, vegetables and some meat. Half of them, 50%, actually the whole delegation, except the athletes, are fasting. Like me, I'm fasting. My breakfast will be after 15 minutes, about 9 o'clock at night. The last meal is about 3:50."

However, Indonesian weightlifters have been told not to fast.

Coach Lukman says athletes should follow their regular diet to guarantee their physical stamina.

"Last year we had some trouble with Ramadan. For all the lifters preparing for the Olympics, nobody follows Ramadan, because it would be very dangerous if they did not have enough to eat. This is very important. Like in the Guangzhou Games in 2010, for the first week, no problem; but for the second week and third week, this is very dangerous. To pray is okay, must be. But to not eat enough, no. Must be enough. All the supplementaries, all the food will support their performance."

Weightlifter Irawan Eko Yuli, who won a bronze medal in the men's 62kg category, agrees with the rules set by his team.

"I did fast for Ramadan. But as for the compensation, I am going to fast for a month after the Ramadan month."

The athletes are not alone in observing Ramadan traditions during the Olympics.

Hazan, a Muslim volunteer in London, hope his fasting won't interfere with his volunteering.

"I want to eat healthy food at appropriate times to keep the body regulated and in a condition for the competition. Because, if they do not eat and they think about the food, then they can't perform as well."

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. Muslims worldwide observe this month to fast, usually for 29 or 30 days.

For CRI, I'm Emily Henessy.



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