Muslims are required to abstain from food and drink from dawn to dusk during the 30-day month of Ramadan, which began Friday in most countries.
During long summer days in London, that translates into 18 hours of fasting - something that many Muslim athletes consider impossible to do without losing their competitive edge.
Many of the 3,500 or so Muslim athletes expected to compete at the London Olympics will keep eating as usual.
“I could not fast. I need all that stuff, like protein, carbs and minerals,” Egyptian kayaker Mustafa Saied told The Associated Press. “I can do it after Ramadan and Allah will accept it because there was an important reason.”
Others decided to postpone fasting until after competitions, and some will compensate for the lost days with charity work or by donating to the poor.
“It’s impossible for us to fast Ramadan during the London Olympics,” said Yasser Hefny, an Egyptian modern pentathlete. “We have five disciplines to perform. We do a lot of effort during the whole day.”
The High Egyptian Islamic Council gave athletes a reprieve by announcing a fatwa, or religious edict, stating that Olympic athletes are not required to fast during coaching or competition.
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