Jordan’s Prince Feisal Bin Al-Hussein, a member of the International Olympic Committee, says Muslim athletes should be excused from fasting during the London games.
Muslim athletes are among those from more than 200 nations who’ve traveled to the British capital for the Olympics, which begin with the soccer tournament tomorrow. Participants from Libya have been waiting on the country’s top Islamic scholar to make a decision about whether they could delay fasting during Ramadan, which started last week. Fasting is one of the five pillars of the faith.
“You’ll have some people who like any religion take a very, very strict view but in the Koran it says basically God doesn’t want to make it difficult and impossible for people to do things and there is dispensation for people who are either on travel or other things to make it up the rest of the year,” Prince Feisal, who is the younger brother of Jordan’s King Abdullah II, said in an interview in London.
During the month of Ramadan, Muslims are expected to fast between sunrise and sunset. In many Islamic countries life slows and business hours are changed to help believers meet the challenge of the month-long abstention from food and water.
Libya’s Olympic Committee expressed concern earlier this month that top scholar Sheikh Sadik Al-Ghariani has yet to rule on whether athletes competing in London could eat regularly. In Egypt, the Fatwa Council of El-Azhar, the country’s main religious authority, said athletes could break their fast.
“I’m hoping that the athletes will take that view but at the end of the day it’s their personal conviction,” said Prince Feisal.
Relations between Israel and Arab nations have become a talking point ahead of the 30th summer games. IOC President Jacques Rogge warned on July 21 athletes faces punishments if they refuse to compete against a rival on the basis of their nationality after being told some Egyptians were considering the option. Prince Feisal said any boycott would be wrong. Jordan is not among the mainly Muslim countries that don’t recognize Israel.
“I appreciate for some people it will be but I don’t think boycotts but I don’t believe boycotts do anything or any good for anybody,” Prince Feisal said at London’s Grosvenor House hotel where he’s attending the IOC’s 124th annual session.
“In original games the Greek states used to be fighting each other but for the Olympic games they would stop, they would compete and celebrate the victors and the competitors and then afterwards, after the Olympic truce was over, they’d get back to fighting.”
The 48-year-old royal has been with the IOC since 2010. For much of that time he’s been trying to promote the access to the games to women. Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Brunei became the last to send women to the games after naming females on their game’s teams for the first time in London.
“I think it’s been a fantastic change and it’s a sign of modern times,” he said.