The Muslim holy month of Ramadan will coincide with the 2012 London Olympics, a scheduling conflict that is creating controversy in Britain, the Daily Mail reported on its website Saturday.

The conflict means Muslim athletes must fast from sunrise to sunset for the entireperiod of the Olympics, putting them at a distinct disadvantage.

Ramadan will fall from July 21 to August 20 in 2012, while the London Games run between July 27 and August 12.

An estimated 3,000 Muslim competitors arelikely to be affected.

During the 2004 Athens Games, roughly 25 per cent of the 11,099 athletes who competed came from countries with a largely Muslim population.

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, which is based on a lunar cycle and advances about 11 days each year.

The conflict is considered an embarrassment for London officials, including Mayor Ken Livingstone, whowanted toensure that all of Britain's ethnic communities would take part in the Olympics.

"They would not have organized this at Christmas. It is equally stupid to organize it at Ramadan," Massoud Shadjareh, chairman of the London-based Islamic Human Rights Commission, told the Daily Mail.

"It shows a complete lack of awareness and sensitivity. This is going to disadvantage the athletes and alienate the Asian communities by saying they don't matter.

"It's not only going to affect the participants it's going to affect all the people who want to watch the Games. They won't want to travel during Ramadan and they won't want to watch sport. It's a spiritual time."

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) maintains the Games take place somewhere between July 15 to August 31, giving more than a week on either side of Ramadan.

IOC spokeswoman Giselle Davies told the Daily Mail that any religious conflict with the Games is up to the athletes to figure out.

"We give a window to the five bid cities. The host city selects the dates within that window," said Davies.

"The Games bring together virtually every religion and creed. How to deal with religious clashes is up to the athletes."

Joanna Manning Cooper, spokeswoman for London 2012, said the committee is still confident that something can be worked out.

"We did know about it when we submitted our bid and we have always believed we could find ways to accommodate it," she said. "We are working with the Muslim Council of Great Britain to find ways to accommodate Ramadan during the London Games."