In just a few days, the world will be swept up in Olympic fever as the 2012 games begin in London. But amidst all of the excitement and all of the celebration comes a startling realizationthe 2012 Olympics mark the 40th anniversary of the murder of 11 Israeli athletes as part of a hostage crisis during the 1972 Olympics in Munich.
The world watched in horror as the events in Munich unfolded, and ABC sportscaster Jim McKay delivered the awful news with his famous words, "They're all gone." Yet claiming they do not wish to "politicize" the Olympics, and mentioning that "the opening ceremony is an atmosphere that is not fit to remember such a tragic incident," the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has denied repeated requestsincluding one made by Israeli officialsfor a moment of silence during the opening ceremony to mark this solemn anniversary. (Apparently, families of the victims have requested a simple moment of silence on many occasions before.)
Let us not forget how often the Olympics have been used as an instrument of politics before, including the U.S. boycott of the 1980 Summer Games in Moscow, and the Soviet Union's boycott of the 1984 Summer Games in Los Angeles.
The Olympics mark one occasion when nearly the whole world stands together, shoulder to shoulder, to experience the glory of achievement, the beauty of teamwork, the sheer power of self-belief and determination. What better time to salute 11 athletes who had the same dream as all of those who gather in London but were killed in pursuit of that dream? Such a moment would not "politicize" the Olympics, it would bring a necessary degree of heart and soul and gravitas to the games before the focus turns to who wins, who loses, who exceeds expectations and who falls short of their dreams.
NBC's Olympics anchor, Bob Costas, has criticized the IOC's decision, and has decided to take a stand. He will have his own minute of silence as the Israeli athletes enter the Olympic Stadium in London. Costas told The Hollywood Reporter what his plans were for the broadcast:
"I intend to note that the IOC denied the request. Many people find that denial more than puzzling but insensitive. Here's a minute of silence right now."I salute Bob Costas for taking a stand. I salute the memory of the 11 athletes whose lives were taken simply because of their religion and their desire to proudly represent their country on the world stage. And I will join Bob Costas in my own moment of silence to mark this occasion.
To do anything else seems to run counter to the Olympic spirit.