Islam prescribes covering almost the whole body as its dress code, but when it comes to sporting events, like the upcoming Islamic Solidarity Games (ISG), the athletes, particularly those non-Muslims, do not have to abide by the Islamic dress code.
Even at the beach volleyball and swimming competition, the organizers say, they are allowed to compete in attire that is usually worn when international rules apply.
“ISG is not a sports event exclusively for Muslim athletes. This is an event for countries, not bogged down by religious faiths. Several participating countries have included in their contingent a number of non-Muslim athletes,” Djoko Pramono, chairman of the central organizers of the Games,” said recently.
Palembang will host the four-yearly sporting event, contested by country members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) from Sept. 22 to Oct. 1.
And questions about how the competition will be dealt with, especially the dress code, are inevitable given the past conflict where some Muslim athletes found themselves unwelcome in a competition because they insisted on wearing Muslim attire while competing. A judo athlete was rejected by the federation during the London Olympics.
The ISG could become a solace where Muslim countries compete with their own rules.
However, the organizers quashed the notion, pointing out that international rules should come to the fore.
“We cannot ban the rules applied by the international body. But if Muslim athletes want to wear a head scarf, they may do so,” Muddai Madang, chairman of the local organizers, said in Jakarta on Tuesday after attending the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the disbursement of funds for the game organizers.
“Non Muslim athletes please use international rules,” he said.
Djoko said the organizers did not query about the athletes’ religions and they said it did not concern them how many non-Muslims were in the Games.
As many as 44 of 57 OIC countries were confirmed to take part in the event, which features 13 different sports with a total of 1,530 medals on offer for an expected 3,200 athletes and officials.
The basketball competition already began its matches on Sunday while soccer matches will start as early as Thursday.
Jamal Abu Shamallah, one of non-Muslim athletes in the Palestinian team, said their coaches never questioned whether he was Muslim or not.
“We are in the same team and always together to fight for our country,” Jamal said.
Basketball team manager Aziz Mohammad Ali said that non-Muslim athletes made up 20 percent of the team.
“It’s no different whether Muslim or not Muslim. We are the same because it is not religion games but nations’ games,” he said.
Local residents are enthusiastic about the event. “We are glad about the ISG. They will spend money in this souvenir market, won’t they? Kito, one of the souvenir market stall owners said. The Jakarta Post