|code: 335958||Date: 2012/08/11 - 01:45||source: Press TV|
Holy month of Ramadan challenging for Muslim Olympians?
(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) - The coincidence of the holy month of Ramadan with the 2012 London Olympic Games, which started on July 27, a week into the month-long Muslim fast, has raised a dilemma for over 3,000 Muslim athletes, encompassing 27 percent of all 11,099 Olympians taking part in the sports event.
Ramadan, which is the ninth and holiest month of the Islamic calendar and one of the Muslim faith's Five Pillars, has fallen this year on July 20 to August 18.
Meanwhile, all 17 days of the 2012 Olympics, from July 17 to August 12, have fallen within the holy month, a time when Muslims are required to fast from sunrise until sunset.
Medical experts believe that, theoretically at least, a reduction of food intake during the holy month of Ramadan could deplete an athlete's liver and muscle glycogen stores, which may lead to a drop in performance, particularly in sports requiring muscle strength and endurance.
The very fact that the Games are taking place during Ramadan has provoked accusations of Islamophobic attitudes against the London Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games (LOCOG).
"The dates of the Games are chosen, and were chosen, by the local [London] Organizing Committee," says Ronald Maughan, a sports scientist from Britain 's Loughborough University.
Maughan, who also heads the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) working group on nutrition, claims that no country filed a complaint when the London schedule was announced almost a decade ago.
"Opportunities were given to raise any objections to the schedule of events and no objections were raised at the time," he adds.
However, a study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine (BJSM) in 2007, which looked at two male Algerian professional soccer teams, found that the players' speed, agility, dribbling speed and endurance declined significantly during the Ramadan fast.
The BJSM's research also found that almost 70 percent of the Algerian Muslim players thought training and performance were adversely affected, with footballers running an average of 5448 meters in 30 minutes when fasting, but 5649 meters outside Ramadan.
Moreover, according to another study published in the BJSM in 2010, the holy month fasting had an adverse effect on performance, albeit small in magnitude, during 60 minutes of endurance treadmill running by moderately trained Muslim men.
Calling for other similar research into the fasting effects on soccer players or on people who are sporty but non-athletes, Jim Waterhouse, a sports and exercise science professor at Liverpool John Moores University in Britain, laments that so few studies have been done that give direct insight into how Ramadan-observing athletes may fare during the Olympics.