dinsdag 22 november 2011

Sikhs permitted to wear ceremonial daggers at London Olympics

Sikhs permitted to wear ceremonial daggers at London Olympics

• Locog: 'We want to make sure Games are accessible to all'
• Britain has world's largest Sikh population outside India
Kirpan, the SIkh ceremonial dagger
The kirpan is one of five articles of faith for Sikhs and will be allowed in the London Olympic venues. Photograph: Chris Wattie/Reuters

Sikh athletes and spectators will be allowed to wear ceremonial daggers into London Olympic venues next year, despite the intense security arrangements, as part of a multi-faith approach to the Games.

"We want to make sure the Games are accessible to everyone," a Locog spokesperson said on Monday. "The policy has been set by the Locog security team, who have liaised with wider stakeholders, and is part of our multi-faith approach.

"The kirpan will be presented at security, but it will not be unsheathed. Wearing the kirpan alongside the other articles of faith is both an every-day occurrence for Sikhs and an important part of observing their faith."

Organisers said the kirpan would have to be worn beneath clothing and Sikhs carrying one would also have to demonstrate the four other articles of their faith that they must wear at all times.

Britain has the world's largest Sikh community outside of India, with 336,000 followers recorded in a 2001 census, although Sikh community figures say the real figure is more than double that.

Organisers have recruited 193 chaplains, representing nine faiths, to assist some 17,000 athletes and officials attending the Games as well as up to 200,000 staff and volunteers and 20,000 media.

The International Olympic Committee requests facilities for five faiths – Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus and Buddhists – but London 2012 organisers have added Sikh, Zoroastrian, Jain and Baha'i to the list.

The Olympics, starting on 27 July next year, represent the biggest security challenge since the second world war for a country that remains on high alert for a terrorist attack.

The defence secretary, Philip Hammond, said this month that all necessary measures will be taken, including possibly the use of surface-to-air missiles, to defend against an airborne attack

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