Muslim Athletes Must Balance the Call to Fast With a Desire to Compete

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — When the Qatari sprinter Noor al-Malki makes her debut at the London Olympics, she will not be among those contending for a medal. Breaking her own national record in the 100 meters will be enough of a prize.

But even this modest goal presents a challenge.

Al-Malki, 17, whose oil-and-gas rich country is sending women to the Olympics for the first time, knows she will need all her energy and strength to run a fast race. To do that, however, might require her to break the fast during Ramadan.

Muslims are required to abstain from food and drink from dawn to dusk during the 30-day holy month, which begins on July 20 and overlaps with the Olympics. But al-Malki and the 3,500 other Muslim athletes expected to compete in London may look to ancient Islamic tenets that allow exemptions — for travelers, the sick and others — out of concern that not eating or drinking, even water, throughout the day could put them at a competitive disadvantage. [Read more...]

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