Daily Mail Reporter, September 24, 2008
Toilet facilities are being built at London’s Olympic Park so Muslims will not have to face Mecca while sitting on the loo.
The Olympic Delivery Authority has said it wants to produce an ideal venue for people of all cultures, faiths, ages and abilities for the 2012 Games and beyond.
The Islamic religion prohibits Muslims from facing the Kiblah – the direction of prayer – when they visit the lavatory.
An ODA spokeswoman confirmed that a ‘percentage of general toilets would not face Mecca’ out of sensitivity.
She could not say how many toilets would turn away from the East.
Also as part of the design, special washing facilities will be linked to Islamic prayer rooms.
It is not the first time toilets have changed direction to accommodate Muslims.
Last year, thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money was used to ensure toilets at Brixton prison in London did not offend Islamic law.
Muslim prisoners complained of having to sit sideways on toilets so as to not break code.
Faith leaders in the government pressured officials to approve turning the toilets 90 degrees.
But ODA chairman John Armitt said it was about making the London Olympic venue the ‘most accessible and inclusive public park’ for future generations.
Other design measures earmarked for the park include:
* Gentle slopes into the venue with wider pathways with smooth surfaces and seating and resting places at regular intervals for wheelchair users;
* Accessible toilet facilities including special areas where older disabled people can be helped to change by their carers; and
* Baby changing areas and buggy stores at toilet facilities.
Vice chairman of London Olympic Organising Committee’s Sports Advisory Group and Paralympic champion Dame Tanni Grey-Thomson said: ‘London 2012 is aiming to go further than any previous host city to ensure that both the Olympic and Paralympic Games are accessible for everyone.
‘After the Games, world-class sporting venues and the largest and most inclusive park in London will be left to help inspire a new generation of Olympic and Paralympic athletes.’
London Mayor Boris Johnson welcomed the commitment to inclusive design saying ‘it is clear that accessibility must continue to be at the core of our work’ in developing facilities in the Park.
‘I welcome the ODA’s commitment to inclusive design and while I’m determined to provide taxpayer value from the 2012 budget, that commitment will not be compromised and remains a top priority for me as we prepare London to host the 2012 Games.’
The final strategy was based on input from a range of communities, multi-faith groups, disabled people and Paralympians.