Saudi Yoga Committee takes part in 100 days countdown campaign to International Day of Yoga 2022
But after the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, Saudi authorities allowed only 1,000 pilgrims to participate.
The following year, they upped the total to 60,000 fully vaccinated residents chosen through a lottery.
The restrictions have stoked resentment among Muslims abroad who were barred. Saturday’s announcement said this year’s hajj would be limited to vaccinated pilgrims under age 65.
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Those coming from outside Saudi Arabia will be required to submit a negative Covid-19 PCR result from a test taken within 72 hours of travel.
The government wants to ensure pilgrims’ safety “while ensuring that the maximum number of Muslims worldwide can perform the hajj”, Saturday’s statement said.
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The hajj consists of a series of religious rites that are completed over five days in Islam’s holiest city, Mecca, and surrounding areas of western Saudi Arabia.
Hosting the hajj is a matter of prestige for Saudi rulers, as the custodianship of Islam’s holiest sites is the most powerful source of their political legitimacy.