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Indonesia.2013. Foto: AFP/DEK

Indonesia.2013. Foto: AFP/DEK

The problem Islamic Solidarity Games begin in Baku

2017 May 11 ( Thursday )  11:33:37
Print version
Русский Azərbaycan
Analytical Service of Turan

Tomorrow, on May 12, the grand opening of the Fourth Games of Islamic solidarity will take place in Baku, the official closure is scheduled for May 22. But the actual competition of athletes began on May 8 with a match between Saudi Arabia and Morocco with the participation of athletes up to 23 years. On the same day the national teams of Azerbaijan and Cameroon competed, the game ended with a goalless draw.

The history of the Games of Islamic solidarity is short and problematic. The first games took place in 2005 in Saudi Arabia with the participation of six and a half thousand athletes from 53 countries of the world where Muslims live, with the exception of Uzbekistan, Albania and Togo.

The entrance for the spectators was free, but the participants had to follow the heavy rules adopted in Saudi Arabia. At the games in Mecca, athletes were forbidden to wear too short clothes, women's and men's competitions were held on different days, men were forbidden to watch women's swimming competitions. Compete in the Arab heat, and even in closed clothes - an unpleasant event for athletes. In addition, the participants of the Games had to overcome complex visa barriers, adopted in Saudi Arabia. For the competition, 48 million Saudi riyals (13 million dollars) were allocated.

The following Games failed because of disagreements between Islamic countries. The Second Islamic Solidarity Games were planned for October 2009, in Tehran. But in May 2009 it became known that Iran is forced to postpone their holding for April 2010, as the Iranians argued with the Arabs over the name of the Persian Gulf, which the Arabs call Arab. Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries demanded the use in the printed materials and medals of the Games the name of the bay they want, and they proposed to use one word "bay" as a compromise. Tehran did not agree to a compromise, and on January 17, 2010 it was announced that the Games would not take place.

Tehran again promised to host the Games on its territory. Again began complicated negotiations with the Arabs, there was a time, and further words did not move forward. Then the International Federation of Islamic Solidarity Games (ISSF) commissioned the event of Indonesia. Third Games were held from September 22 to October 1, 2013 in Indonesia, Palembang, with the participation of 1800 athletes from 46 Muslim countries.

Due to a lack of funds, and also because of the fact that the preparation of games was only a few months after Iran refused to host the games, the opening ceremony was modest. They also wrote that the funds "did not fully reach their destination".

There were no restrictions in sports and casual clothes this time. The organizing committee refused to many teams in their demand to hold competitions for men and women on different days. For the participants and fans there were provided separate special rooms for prayer.

The unanimous decision to hold the Fourth Games in Baku was made at Jiddah, at the 8th ISSF General Assembly Election Meeting. Immediately began the preparatory work in Baku, led by the spouse of Azerbaijani President Mehriban Aliyeva, appointed in 2017 as the first vice-president of the country. The holding of the games was allocated $100 million from the Azerbaijani budget, "said Minister of Youth and Sports Azad Rahimov. Most of the funds will be spent at the opening and closing ceremonies, and the world pop stars will not sing at the ceremonies. It is possible to participate in the closing of local artists," Rahimov said.

Unlike the first European sports games held in Baku in 2015, and the Eurovision song contest held in the same city in 2012, this time the Azerbaijani organizers are clearly not up to chic. At the European games Baku undertook the payment of all the expenses of the sports delegations, but the countries participating in the Fourth Islamic Solidarity Games themselves pay the costs of their athletes' arrival and stay. "Under the terms of the agreement with the ISSF, the participants will pay for food and stay in Baku at a rate of $50 per day per person. But there are a number of countries that are experiencing financial problems with ensuring the participation of athletes in games. They will help ISSF, we, on our part, will try to make them a discount for the accommodation and nutrition of athletes," the minister explained the journalists.

Despite the cheapness of entrance tickets to the stadiums (1-5 manat, to some stadiums are free, and the viewers of the closing and opening of the Games will pay 10-200 manat), there were very few spectators at the first sports competitions, which completely excludes the possibility of self-repayment of the Games in Baku. So, a football match between Azerbaijan and Cameroon at the stadium was watched by only about 500 spectators, although the press service of the Islamic Games announced that all tickets for matches of the group stage with participation of the Azerbaijani national team were sold. Stadium "Bayil Arena", which hosted the match, is intended for 3600 spectators.

Before the Games in Baku, it was announced that athletes in 20 sports will compete under the flags of 56 countries and the Sports Federation of Islamic Solidarity for 269 sets of medals. But the lack of finance in the budgets of Islamic countries once again made itself felt. On the eve of the Games, it turned out that the Sudan and Libya sports delegations will not be sent. Azerbaijan did not pay the expenses of any sports delegation. Pakistani judokas (200 athletes) did not arrive in Baku because of disagreements between the Olympic Association of Pakistan and the Judo Federation of that country. Athletes from Kuwait will act under the flag of the Sports Federation of Islamic Solidarity, as this country is punished by the International Olympic Committee because of the government's interference in the affairs of the National Olympic Committee.

The Organizing Committee of the Games of Islamic Solidarity Baku-2017 regularly acquainted the public with the conditions and details of the Games, informing that the Games will be attended by athletes from Muslim countries from four continents. They will compete in 20 sports for 10 days, 500,000 spectators will attend the competition, athletes will be fed only products that have received the certificate of halality.

But the Organizing Committee did not answer Turan's questions. How will spectators and sportsmen dress in the Games, because in Islam there are strict rules for wearing clothes for men and women. Will swimmers compete in hijabs? Will men be allowed to stand in stadiums during women's teams competitions, and will women be able to watch men's competitions? Are there purely Muslim sports in Islam, and what kind of European sports discipline does Islam disapprove? Are there differences between Shiites and Sunnis in their attitude toward sport? A spokesperson for the organizing committee of the Games said so: "if you asked other questions, we would answer them ...". They promised to give answers to these questions and did not keep the same word in the Office of Muslims of the Caucasus.

Public and religious figures of Azerbaijan answered the questions from Turan.

Political scientist, author of three books on Islam, Teimar Ataev believes that there should not be uniform requirements for sportswear at the Games, as sport delegations from different countries, in which different orders of wearing men's and women's clothes are accepted, come to Baku, up to complete freedom in this issue. T.Ataev admits that for the athletes in the Olympic village will be allocated rooms for prayers.

"The essence of the Islamic Games is misunderstood in the world." If you look at clothes for technical personnel and volunteers, you can see that it is outside of Islam. "I did not meet any restrictions in clothes, having looked through the rules of the Games, and the official symbol of the Games is the Karabakh horses in the form of men and women. There can be no other way: according to the Qur'an, the Lord created man and woman, and therefore they cannot be countered. In the Qur'an, there are no commandments about sport, but competition is called for, and it is said about human health. In this regard, sport is one of the important conditions of life rights.

At the Olympic Games in Rio, last year, in game sports, in volleyball athletes from Muslim countries of North Africa took part. They performed in normal sportswear. And the girl in hijab performed as a member of the US fencing team, and her mother said that they chose fencing because the girl will wear a helmet that will cover her head. In principle, there is no particular difference between the Islamic Games and the Olympic Games," the expert replied.

"There are no fundamental differences between confessions in Islam, of course, there are religions, this is normal, there are differences in the Christian world, and one should not be afraid of it, as these differences are conditioned by the willing desire of believers." Recent events in the Middle East and the world show that Disagreements in Islam are created from the outside for selfish purposes, so as to manage Muslims from the side," chairman of the NGO "Moral World" Shahin Hasanli answered the question of Turan about confessions.

"In Islam, there are no special provisions on sports games, just like there are no Muslim sports, our religion supports a healthy lifestyle and motivates a person to lead such a life." I think that there will be no special competitions for certain kinds of sports in Islamic games," said Sh.Hasanli.

Just like T.Ataev, he believes that since athletes from Islamic countries will take part in competitions in Baku and sharia rules are not applied in all countries, each team will probably observe its rules in sports clothes. "The rules can include rooms for prayers, since Muslims will come to us, but I do not think that there will be other general rules that are binding on Muslim participants." Each delegation will fulfill its customs and norms.

In Islam, there are no sports of its own. In the hadith of the prophet, the struggle is promoted as a sport, it tells about running, equestrian competitions, archery in accordance with the historical picture of that time. Various Muslim peoples have come up with their own kinds of competition in accordance with their culture, but calling these sports Islamic is wrong, "Shahin Hasanli explained.

Judging by the athletic form in which athletes competed before May 11 - the day before the official opening of the competition - a tough Muslim dress code for athletes and spectators in Baku is not planned, and foreigners wishing to compete in closed clothes can act as they do, or choose not to participate in specific competitions. For example, the sports management promised that athletes in wrestling sports will compete for the medals of the winners. These words can mean Iran's refusal to participate in women's competitions, providing for sportswear that contradicts Iranian ideas about Islam.