RIO DE JANEIRO – Muslim and non-Muslim Olympian athletes have been demanding thousands of halal meals during their stay in Rio de Janeiro, leaving organizers struggling to answer the unexpected overwhelming demand.
“The organizing committee of the Rio Olympics is currently looking at increasing the supply of halal food to the event as the halal buffet witnessed remarkable demand from athletes and participants, even non-Muslims,” Nasser Al Khazraji, secretary of the Sao Paulo-based Islamic Center of Brazil, was quoted by Salaam Gateway.
“This is a positive thing, of course, and proves that the culture of halal is present in non-Muslim nations,” he said.
Before the start of the games, organizers planned submitting as much as 70 tons of halal poultry and meat, and 8,000 meals a day.
However, daily demand has sharply increased, exceeding 10,000 halal meals a day from both Muslim and non-Muslim athletes and officials.
Brazil Islamic Center has been commissioned by the Brazilian officials to serve halal food to athletes during the games.
The center, working for 20 years in halal food industry, has been providing halal food for Muslim delegations in Rio.
It has been offered separate kitchens in the Olympic village along with a large dining hall which is capable of hosting more than 2,000 athletes and managers of Muslim delegations to Rio.
The Islamic Center also proposed to set-up separate warehouses to store halal food that would be served during the event, a step that facilitated their supervision of the products.
This is not the first time the Islamic Center of Brazil is coordinating the provision of halal food to a large sporting event.
During the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, the non-profit organization coordinated with most of the hotels and training centers that were receiving delegations from Muslim countries, making visits to kitchens and equipping staff with knowledge.
The 2016 Summer Olympics kicked off on Friday, August 5, in Rio de Janeiro and runs until August 21.
Halal food is a big industry in Brazil.
The concept of halal, — meaning permissible in Arabic — has traditionally been applied to food.
Muslims should only eat meat from livestock slaughtered by a sharp knife from their necks, and the name of Allah, the Arabic word for God, must be mentioned.
Halal food is consumed not only by 1.5 billion Muslims around the world, but also by at least 500 million non-Muslims.