Lifestyle & Belief

Ramadan may cause traffic during 2012 Olympic games


People queue to enter a train station in Jakarta on August 25, 2011. Millions of Indonesian Muslims are heading home to their villages to celebrate the Eid al-Fitr holidays with relatives.



Visitors and athletes arriving in London for the 2012 games are being warned about the "traffic chaos" that is expected to ensue because the 2012 Olympic games coincide with Ramadan.

The Islamic holy month usually draws extra large crowds of worshippers to nearby mosques, NBC reported.

According to local politician Abdal Ullah, the extra traffic will be caused by large attendances at the nightly prayers and are likely to disrupt those using key Olympic road-links between central London and the main Games site in Stratford, which is four miles to the east.

"The areas all around the mosques get very busy around prayer time during Ramadan, and there is often traffic chaos on nearby roads and it will be busier on the Underground [London's subway system]," he told  "Although the prayers are in the late evening, many people will stay on at the Olympic Park after events and will be traveling through East London late in the day and might not be expecting it to be congested, which is a big concern."

The Daily Mail reported that the district surrounding the Olympic Park is home to more than 250,000 Muslims and almost 100 mosques.

Accorded to NBC News, the biggest local mosque, the East London Mosque in Whitechapel, sits on the main route linking central London to Stratford. It attracts around 5,000 additional worshippers every night throughout Ramadan.

During the holy month of Ramadan, which began in London at 3:17 a.m., Muslims go without food and drink from sunrise to sunset. In London, this translates to roughly 18 hours of fasting during the long summer days.

While there are about 3,000 Muslims competing in the Olympic Games, most have been given special permission by their religious leaders that waives the obligation to fast while taking part in the games, the Washington Post reported.

“I could not fast. I need all that stuff, like protein, carbs and minerals,” Egyptian kayaker Mustafa Saied explained. “I can do it after Ramadan and Allah will accept it because there was an important reason.”

The last time Ramadan coincided with the Olympic Games was in 1980 during the Moscow Games.

Suleiman Nyambui of Tanzania was fasting and competing then. He won Olympic silver in the 5,000 meters.