I am so very disappointed to be wrong. Back in March 2012 I actually felt confident that Saudi Arabia would be sending women athletes to compete in the London summer Olympics. However, in April 2012 the backtracking started. It has only been more firmly cemented in recent announcements that Saudi Arabia will not approve nor send female athletes to the Summer games in London. Saudi Arabia will go down in history as the only nation not having female athletes in participation at the 2012 Olympic games in London. This decision has been handed down just two short weeks after a group of Saudi women climbed Mt. Everest in support of global awareness of breast cancer. In my mind, the triumph of the Saudi women certainly illustrates that they are more than capable of representing the Kingdom at the Olympics!
However, in spite of the lack of female Saudi Olympians, Olympians who practice the Muslim faith may have an additional challenge to contend with as they compete at the summer games. This year the summer Olympics coincides with the Holy month of Ramadan where Muslims are expected to fast without food or water from sunrise to sunset. How may fasting impact on their ability to perform?
Islam does have an exemption that Muslims who travel during Ramadan are not required to fast during that period of traveling but are expected to make up those lost days at a later time. As a result, some Muslim athletes could withhold from fasting during the Olympic games as they will be away from their homes.
I am of two minds on the issue of fasting. Part of the reason for the fast is for Muslims to emphasize and experience the feeling of those who are less fortunate and face hunger. Yet, on the other hand, fasting while expecting to be at peak performance does not mix.
I want to know what you think. What message do you receive from Saudi’s decision to not have female athletes on their team? Secondly, should Muslim athletes in London continue their fasting in spite of the extra exertion that will place upon them during competition?