Baku to host 4th Islamic Games in 2017

By Moni Mathews

Over 5,000 elite athletes for show in Azerbaijan capital

Preparations for the fourth Islamic Solidarity Games (ISG) in Baku from May 12-22, 2017, got off with a solid road trip start, when the event was formally announced at a media conference in Dubai at the Emirates Towers, on Tuesday.
The 57-member Islamic Solidarity Federation (ISSF) will hold the multinational, multi-sport extravaganza where over 5,000 athletes, some of them elite, are expected to participate in the Baku chapter.
Normally the passion sport of a region is included like badminton when the Games was held in Indonesia for the third edition. The 14 core disciplines - archery, swimming including diving, athletics, basketball, fencing, football, gymnastics, handball, judo, karate, table tennis, taekwondo, volleyball and weightlifting will again be the centre of attention during the fortnight.
During the announcement, ISSF secretary general Faisal Al Nassar and officials of Dubai-based Events Lab and MMC Sportz - Saeed Abdulghaffar Hussain, Nasser Tabbah, Samir Tabbah and Eric M. Gottschalk - inked the ISSF global marketing agreement.
Al Nassar said: "We are proud to confirm the fourth Islamic Solidarity Games (ISG) in Baku, Azerbaijan next year and we are proud to have such a strong city like Baku which has so much of international experience as a sports host. The signing of the agreement with Events Lab and MMC Sportz as exclusive sports marketing partners shows that we are totally proactive and professional in reaching our goals."
"For us, the partnership with ISSF is very prestigious and the joint venture with MMC Sportz brings forward a wealth of expertise in various types of dealings," said Samir Tabbah, Group CEO, Desert Gate Tourism & Events Lab.
Gottschalk, MMC Sportz CEO said: "When we presented the commercial framework for the 2017 chapter, it was well received since it was budget sensitive."
The first event was held in 2005 in Saudi Arabia where the nations of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference took part. Non-Muslim citizens in the member countries are also allowed to take part in the Games.
The second event, originally scheduled to take place in October 2009 in Iran, and later re-scheduled for April 2010, was cancelled. The third edition took place in 2013 in Indonesia. 
Forty one nations from the member-list represented at the Games in Palembang three years ago. During the 8th General Assembly of the ISSF in Jeddah, the Baku-2017 Bid Book was presented. The venue was unanimously voted and passed for the fourth chapter to be held in Azerbaijan in 2017. 
Source: http://www.khaleejtimes.com/baku-to-host-4th-islamic-games-in-2017

Muslim ‘girls only’ swimming sessions ripple Danish waters

While the swimming club has hailed the move as a "recipe for integration", politicians and commentators have criticised the concept as being against Danish values.
The girl-only sessions, which also take place with windows and doors to the swimming hall blacked out, were set up in response to religious and cultural requirements put forward by parents, reports Berlingske.
The newspaper reports that 246 girls of non-Danish ethnic origin between the ages of five and 12 have begun attending swimming lessons at the hall since the sessions were introduced.
“We have gone from zero to several hundred girls in three years, and have successfully established a swimming option for a specific group, which would otherwise find swimming difficult to access because of religion,” Lars Sørensen, the director of Hovedstadens Svømmeklub (HSK), told Berlingske.
A 2011 report by the Danish Sports Association (Dansk Idrætsforbund) showed that 28 percent of ethnic Danes were members of sports clubs, compared to 18 percent of non-ethnic Danes.
Sørensen told Berlingske that encouraging young Muslim girls to take part in sport - while keeping with their own religious practices - strengthens both physical wellbeing and integration amongst the girls.
“Many of these girls come here and meet role models from their own neighbourhoods standing on the poolside in the coach’s jersey,” said Sørensen. “At the same time, they learn to swim, which gives safety, fitness and well being.”
Sørensen added that the club did not consider the introduction of segregated lessons an extraordinary measure.
“It is just a condition [for taking part], just as some people swimming in 50 metre lanes and others swimming in 25 metre lanes,” the pool trainer told Berlingske.
“We are the second biggest sporting association in the country, so we think it’s our responsibility to offer a considered range of swimming lessons,” he added.
But the City of Copenhagen's deputy mayor for culture and leisure, Carl Christian Ebbesen of the Danish People’s Party (DF), told Berlingske that creating segregated swimming sessions for Muslim girls was bad for integration and “destructive” for Danish culture.
“It is completely crazy to meet these demands. There is a desperately short supply of swimming pools, so we shouldn’t be closing them down by putting curtains in front of the windows and signs saying ‘just for girls’ just to meet the demands of religious fanatics,” Ebbesen said.
The DF politician said that Muslim girls were welcome to take part in sports clubs, but that this must be done on the same basis as everybody else.
“We must go to the parents via our integration policies and explain to them that we cannot meet their special requirements,” Ebbesen told Berlingske.
“They must send their girls to sport and other activities like everyone else. Every time we meet these demands, we are destroying the society we’ve worked so hard for,” he continued.
Rikke Lauritzen of the left-wing Red-Green Alliance (Enhedslisten), who is responsible for municipality financial support for community projects in Copenhagen, said that Ebbesen should “relax a little bit” and called the swimming initiative “super cool”.
“The most important thing for me is to get children from all backgrounds involved in clubs and associations of all kinds, so that they can be part of the democratic development process that this entails,” Lauritzen told Berlingske.
“It’s super cool, that so many children have begun swimming in Tingbjerg, because it shows that it works when we provide funds for development. I would therefore like to congratulate HSK on its success,” she continued.
Lauritzen also pointed out that single-sex swimming lessons are not an extraordinary sight.
Source: http://www.thelocal.dk/20160427/muslim-girls-only-swimming-sessions-ripple-danish-waters