RELIGION > Ramadan dilemma for Muslim athletes

LONDON - Reuters

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Some 3,000 Muslim athletes will compete in this year’s London Olympics. REUTERS photo

Some 3,000 Muslim athletes will compete in this year’s London Olympics. REUTERS photo

The coincidence of Ramadan this year with the London Olympics, which starts on July 27, a week into the month-long Muslim fast, has thrown up a dilemma for the estimated 3,000 Muslim athletes.

Medical experts say that, theoretically at least, a reduction of food intake during Ramadan could deplete an athlete’s liver and muscle glycogen stores. This is likely to lead to a drop in performance, particularly in sports requiring muscle strength.

The International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) nutrition working group convened a meeting in 2009 to review the evidence. They concluded that Ramadan fasting could be problematic for some athletes in some sports, but the likely overall impact of Ramadan on London 2012 is far from clear.

Ronald Maughan, a sports scientist from Britain’s Loughborough University who chaired the IOC working group, agrees some physical changes are likely. However, he also noted that observing the Muslim holy month involves mental and spiritual discipline, the effects of which should not be underestimated. “Some Muslim athletes say they perform better during Ramadan even if they are fasting because it’s a very spiritual time for them,” he told Reuters.

Another study published in the BJSM in 2010 concluded that “Ramadan fasting had an adverse effect on performance, albeit small in magnitude, during 60 minutes of endurance treadmill running” by moderately trained Muslim men.


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Yıldız pascale

7/9/2012 1:52:47 PM

If they want to sacrifice their participation to Olympic race and challenge, to Fasting, let them be! No wonder why Muslims cannot make noise in those kind of trilling success in the world! I am sure Allah would allow those athletes not to fast because they have a very good reason not to! I am sure Allah wants all Muslims to be a part of the World's other populations and demonstrate their abilities to the rest of the world without any obstacles in front of them.

Ata M

6/27/2012 10:31:26 AM

Don't go then...Stay home and watch it on tv. There will always be alternatives to everything, whether it be fasting or is it a sin or half a sin etc. A religious muslim who becomes a pro athlete would know that the Olympics or other championships would fall during Ramadam at some stage so choose a different job or dont fast. Quite simple really. However giving money instead is just funny.

Niyaz Arshad

5/24/2012 5:27:07 PM

yes...if you cannot keep fast due to medical reasons there are 2 alternatives:- a)Feed poor(refer local Imam) b)Keep fasts on off ramdaan month(refer Imam)

mara mcglothin

5/24/2012 4:32:21 PM

Is it not correct for serious athletes and people who have health issues to give money to the poor and opt out of fasting? That is what I have always heard. My husband was a Turkish Olympian and his family would never allow him to participate. He did, however, give quite a lot of money to charity in exchange for his health. Please advise?
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