Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Just One Minute

"This terrorist attack targeted not only Israel, but the spirit and goals of the Olympic movement.  Given the impact of this tragedy, on the Olympic community as a whole and the world, it should be marked publicly ... Canada strongly supports Israel's request."
The Government of Israel has asked the International Olympic Committee to stage a moment of silence in London at the Olympic Games in honoured memory of the eleven Israeli Olympians who perished in a murderous assault by Palestinian terrorists at the 1972 Munich games.  In 1972, despite the horror of the massacre, the Olympic Committee decided in its wisdom that the games must go on, and they did. 

A growing campaign in the international community to apply moral pressure on the IOC to reconsider its response to Israel has seen Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird and Minister of State of Sport Bal Gosal make a personal intervention.  Calling upon IOC President Jacques Rogge to change the initial decision of the IOC, to agree to a formal, official minute of respectful silence in memory of the dead.

It is forty years since the occurrence whose grotesque attack by armed terrorist on Israeli athletes mesmerized the world in a shock of disbelief.  There was no explanation for the IOC's rejection of the Israeli request.  The response included the suggestion that the IOC would send representatives to any Israeli commemorations.  As though this was a tragedy that affected Israel only, not the Olympics, not the participating Olympians.

"Please rest assured that, within the Olympic family, the memory of the victims of the terrible massacre in 1972 will never fade away.  What happened in Munich in 1972 strengthened the determination to the Olympic Movement to contribute more than ever to building a peaceful and better world by educating young people through sport practices without discrimination of any kind and in Olympic spirit", was the written response from the IOC.

But the massacre was not a simple result of 'discrimination', it was a dreadful, planned act of mass murder whose occurrence went well beyond the need to 'educate young people through sport'.  And what is the "Olympic spirit" if not unquestioned support for a peaceful, collegial interaction through the international coming together of young athletes competing in a spirit of friendly athletic competition? 

Morbid violence occurred, and it should be remembered.  Eleven talented, promising young Israeli athletes were killed.  There is little palatable reason not to briefly and sincerely recall their innocence, their participation in a world class event mounted to bring youth and agility, strength of purpose and expertise together in an amateur field of athletic perfection with amity and respect.

The failure of the International Olympic Committee to recognize and uphold the formality of a sixty-second salute to those who perished and their legacy that has passed to others to uphold the torch of freedom to compete and to excel, is yet another failure on the part of an aloof IOC, cemented into their position of elite indifference to human need.

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