The world is eagerly awaiting the start of the 2012 London Summer Olympics.
Held every four years, the games are a chance for the nations of the world to gather in peaceful competition, to prove which among them is best at a variety of difficult endeavors.
This year, however, the Olympics are tainted by controversy—even before they start—because the organizers have inexplicably refused a simple request for a moment of silence during the opening ceremonies in remembrance of the Israeli athletes murdered by terrorists at the 1972 summer games in Munich.
For those not old enough to remember, on September 5, 1972, during the second week of the games, eight Palestinian terrorists—disguised as athletes—made their way past negligible, almost non-existent security into the Olympic village. During the ensuing melee they killed two members of the Israeli team and took nine hostages. Following a standoff that lasted nearly 18 hours, they were all moved to a nearby airport at which, following an attempt by the German police to rescue them, most of the terrorists and all of the hostages were killed.
Fast forward 40 years, to the request made by surviving family members of the murdered athletes to have their martyrdom briefly observed during the opening ceremonies in London. International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge has his heels dug in, responding to all requests for such an observance with a firm "No," a position few people can understand.
If members of the Belgian team had been killed in a plane crash on the way to the 2008 games or a group of Congolese athletes been killed in the collapse of a poorly constructed Olympic facility in 2004, they would not only be remembered but subsequent games would be dedicated to their memory. Not so in this case, leading many to wonder if Rogge's stance has something to do with the fact that it was Israeli athletes that were killed.
The Munich games were to have been a celebration of West Germany's reintegration into the European family, marking "paid" to its debt to the rest of the world for the evils perpetrated upon it by the Hitler regime. Unfortunately, as the official Olympic website itself describes, those games "will be forever associated with the ghastly acts of terror carried out by terrorist group Black September." It's too bad the International Olympic Committee can't acknowledge the same during the opening ceremonies of the latest games.
- Read Emily Williams: Predicting Who Will Win the Most Medals in the 2012 Olympics
- Follow the Thomas Jefferson Street blog on Twitter at @TJSBlog.
- Check out U.S. News Weekly: an insider's guide to politics and policy.