Three ancient Greek statues have been removed from an Olympic exhibition in Qatar due to cultural sensitivities, the Qatar Olympic and Sports Museum has confirmed.
According to AFP, the statues, which included a classical Greek youth and a Roman-era copy of an athlete, were nude, in the tradition of how Olympic athletes used to compete.
A Greek culture minister told the news wire:
“Organisers in Qatar wanted to cover up the statues’ members with black cloth. So they were never put on display, they went back into storage and returned on April 19.”
A QMA spokeswoman denied to Doha News that this took place. She added that the curator of the exhibition decided to remove the three statues during the installation process:
“This was not due to censorship. The decision to remove the objects was based on the flow of the exhibition, awareness of the outreach to all schools and families in Qatar, and desire to be sensitive to community needs and standards.”
UPDATE | May 9, 2013
Dr. Christian Wacker, the German director of the Qatar Olympic and Sports Museum, told insidethegames the following:
“We had a fabric which we wanted to put two metres in front of the statues. This was a very good compromise. But the Greek Culture Ministry didn’t accept it and so we had no alternative. We do not want to cause offence – you have to acknowledge local cultural sensitivities.”
Residents of the Middle East hold conflicting views on the arts. Some six out of 10 Arabs surveyed in a Doha Debates poll last year expressed support for government censorship of the arts, with the majority of censorship supporters coming from GCC countries.
Regulatory bodies and state-affiliated institutions are necessary because art could be “inappropriate” and offend “religious beliefs,” respondents said. But nearly six out of 10 audience members (58 percent to 42 percent) said censorship ruined the arts during a debate session that also took place last year.
The Olympics – Past and Present exhibition at Alriwaq Doha exhibition space near the Museum of Islamic Art is on display through June 30.
It takes viewers through 2,700 years of Olympic history with two sections highlighting ancient Olympia and the modern games and displays some 1,200 objects, including over 600 objects from Greece and international museums. The exhibit is open daily from 9am to 8pm, and from 2pm to 8pm on Fridays. It is closed on Tuesdays.
Credit: Photo of exhibit courtesy of AlRiwaq on Facebook