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Life & Style

Muslim Olympians celebrate Eid far from home in Tokyo

The Olympics are being held under tight restrictions with everyone all but cut off from the rest of the city.
Published July 23, 2021
Saudi Arabia players line up for the national anthems before a match against Ivory Coast on July 22.—Reuters
Saudi Arabia players line up for the national anthems before a match against Ivory Coast on July 22.—Reuters

Muslim athletes in Tokyo for the Olympics marked a pared-down Eidul Azha, or the Feast of Sacrifice, thousands of miles from their loved ones with shared prayers and cheery online messages.

One of the most important holidays on the Islamic calendar, Eidul Azha is typically celebrated with families coming together in fine clothes to partake of large feasts, slaughtering livestock for the occasion and giving presents to children.

The Tokyo Olympics are being held under tight coronavirus restrictions with athletes, officials and journalists from around the globe all but cut off from the rest of the city and subject to mask-wearing and social distancing.

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After years of training to make it this far, some Muslim athletes and officials from Muslim countries, gathered together for a shared prayer in masks.

"The delegations of Islamic countries conduct the prayer for the blessed Eidul Azha holiday in the athletes' village," Jordan's Olympic Committee posted on Twitter alongside pictures of athletes and officials praying amid sports shoes and clothes.

Some officials wearing Saudi-branded tracksuits appeared to be praying on a stone floor without the usual prayer mats. Their masks hiding smiles, Moroccan and Jordanian representatives shared sweets from small tins for the occasion.

Much of the celebrations were confined to online messages.

Four Wapda athletes representing Pakistan at Tokyo Olympics 2021

All fourteen players of the Turkish women's volleyball team, dubbed the "Sultans of the Net" back home, published a video message on Instagram and Twitter.

"Happy Eid to everyone from Tokyo," the women chanted.

Turkey's volleyball team is one of the country's medal hopes, after bagging the bronze medal last month at the Volleyball Women's Nations League tournament.

As for the Olympic refugee team, which includes athletes from Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq and Iran, the International Olympic Committee's director of Olympic solidarity, James Macleod, said at a virtual news conference on Friday:

"The Muslim athletes celebrated Eid and we were happy that they were able to do that. Obviously, with the measures in place, we can't have a party, so they were doing it in personal way."

The Muslim athletes celebrated the holiday away from home and their loved ones, all the while gearing up for the Olympic competitions.

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