University of Surrey chaplain claims London 2012 ‘most inclusive Games’
10 August 2012
University of Surrey's Jewish chaplain and faith adviser to the London 2012, Alex Goldberg has hailed this summer's Olympic Games as “the most inclusive so far”.
Goldberg, who has been advising London 2012 on faith for over four years now, is happy with the culmination of his work as the Olympic Games draws towards an end.
His work has included advising on the dietary needs of the all the visitors to the Games, the dress code for the Games Makers, the design of the logos and the mascots as well as working with local religious communities near Olympic sites who are affected by the Games.
He said: “This is my first Games, but I think it is one of the most inclusive Games so far. I’ve had positive feedback from people who have attended numerous Games and are impressed by our multifaith provisions.
“The IOC recognises five world religions: Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism and Buddhism, but London 2012 added chaplains from Sikhism, Jainism and The Bahai Faith in addition to suit Great Britain’s main faith groups.”
The Athletes’ Village has a central reception with four faith rooms branching off it offering space for all the recognised faiths. In addition to this there is also a multifaith room at the media centre and roaming chaplains around the Olympic Park. Overall over 190 chaplains will be working across the London 2012 Olympic Games venues.
With this year’s Ramadan clashing with the Olympic Games, special provisions were made for those fasting, Goldberg explained: “The catering team and the chaplains worked together before the start of Ramadan to make provisions for the rush expected at the breaking fast. Especially in the first few days this planning was necessary as we had some very hungry volunteers, staff and press.”
Individual athletes made their own decisions for Ramadan with most having exemption and dispensation for travelling. Each team had their own coaches and medical teams who worked with the chaplains to advise where necessary.
Goldberg hopes the consideration made by London 2012 with faith provisions will set the bar for other sporting organisations, saying: “I hope that this is carried on into legacy terms. Hopefully sport federations will take this positivity to expand programmes which aim to bring different people into sport, considering their individual needs.
“People are inspired by London 2012 so now is the time to try to get sport into more religious communities.”
At the University of Surrey Goldberg has been involved in developing their proposed £7million Surrey Multifaith Centre.
He compares his current work on the Olympic Park to his work on the campus, saying: “It is very similar to the University. It is like a large campus at exam time, everyone is a bit nervous and the job of a chaplain is to support them through this.”
You can read more about Alex Goldberg's work here.
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