Running on Faith: How Politics, Rather Than Fasting, Has Often Proved Tougher for Muslim Olympians

Guo Dayue / Xinhua Press / Corbis

Giving thanks Roqaya al-Gassra of Bahrain wins her 200-m heat at the Beijing Olympics in 2008

For the estimated 3,500 Muslim athletes going to the London Olympics this month, the pinnacle of their athletic careers will coincide with one of the most important periods in their spiritual calendar. All 17 days of the Games will take place during the holy month of Ramadan, when Muslims are required to fast and refrain from drinking water from sunrise to sunset. The overlap of Ramadan and the Olympics may prove a challenge to many of the observant athletes — it's hard to be at your best when your fuel tank is low — but in many ways, the Olympic spirit...

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