LONDON, UK—London 2012 Olympic organisers have confirmed Sikh athletes and spectators will be allowed to wear Kirpaan into London Olympic venues next year. Bearing in mind the intense security arrangements London 2012 organisers felt it was essential that Sikhs had equal access to the games as part of a multi-faith approach to London 2012.
“We want to make sure the Games are accessible to everyone,” a Locog spokesperson said. “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.
The news which broke recently in media world wide was after community discussion between organisers and Sikh organisations in UK. This comes on the back of previous Olympics held in Vancouver, Canada which also made allowance for Sikh community to wear Kirpaan recognising 5 K’s as an essential part of the Sikh faith.
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 if not triple the figure by 2012.
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 the United Kingdom which remains on high alert for a terrorist attack.
The defense 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.
Sikh community representatives have welcomed the confirmation which comes in line with British Law which allows Sikhs to wear 5 K’s and in particular Kirpaan in public places including Houses of Parliament, High Courts, and even Queen’s Palaces.