40 years ago the most horrific and tragic event in Olympic history took place, the Munich Massacre. A Palestinian terrorist group known as the Black September murdered 11 Israeli athletes and coaches during the second week of the 1972 Munich Olympics. It is a black mark on an event that is designed to promote goodwill and peace. It is also a tragedy that will torment the loved ones of the fallen Israeli Olympians forever.
It was an atrocious but history changing event. Despite how awful it was, it would be heartless to attempt to ignore it. It shaped history, and it is a tragedy that will always be a part of the Olympics.
This is why there was a petition signed by over 105,000 people from well over 100 countries demanding that there be a moment of silence at the opening ceremonies. This petition was endorsed by several country leaders including President Barack Obama. It had the mightiest support possible, but was still denied by IOC President Jacques Rogge.
Rogge's argument is that the moment of silence would be a political gesture, and that it is not appropriate to bring politics into the Olympics. This would of course lead you to believe that the IOC then never allows politics to be mixed into Olympic ceremonies. You'd only be correct if you successfully ignored all the time the Olympics did address political issues.
Major issues such as 9/11 or the Bosnian war have been addresses in past games, and it has never harmed the spirit of the games.
Rogge has noted they have honored the victims in the past, and even recently, held a moment of silence in front at 100 people at the Athletes' Village. It has never been given a fitting tribute on a global stage during one of the ceremonies, despite the fact the lives were lost during the Olympics.
The claim that the denial is to avoid mixing political events with the Olympics is weak. The IOC's denial of the moment of silence is a political move. It is an attempt to appease Arab nations that have disputes with Israel. They're trying to avoid a boycott from several countries.
IOC and these countries are wrong. The moment of silence isn't about politics. It isn't about the friction between Israel and Palestine or any other Arab groups. It is about 11 lives that were lost. 11 people who came to realize their Olympic dreams, but were murdered by terrorists. It is about remembering human beings, and athletes who were part of the large Olympic family.
IOC's decision was spineless. There is still time to correct their mistake. There is still a closing ceremony where they can commemorate the lives of 11 Israelis. Hopefully, they make the right "political" move this time.
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Chris SpicerContributing Writer(Image courtesy of Hulton Archive)