“We feel that the opening ceremony is an atmosphere that is not fit to remember such a tragic incident,” commented nbsp;International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge& last week. He was trying to explain why, in the face of international protest, the 40th anniversary of the 1972 Olympic Village massacre would not be acknowledged during the Opening Ceremonies. His explanation was rendered a complete lie, made absolutely clear after yesterday's otherwise-wonderful Opening Ceremonies.
There were, in fact, two moments of silence during the event, both deserved, both resonant. The first honored the war dead from all nations within the context of a poppy-filled representation of Flanders Field, where so many British soldiers died during World War I. The second acknowledged the victims of the July 7, 2005 London Bombing, which took place a day after the city received word that it would host the 2012 Summer Olympics. But it is ironic and absurd (but not in any comedic way) that the 1972 massacre was ignored at the behest of the IOC. Of all tragedies acknowledged over all the years of Olympic Opening Ceremonies, this one should have been the most personal and resonant to Olympians no matter their national affiliation.
During the 1972 Munich Games, the Black September terrorist group massacred 11 members of the Israeli Olympic team after abducting them from the Olympic Village. And as it so happened, the 40 anniversary coincides with an Olympic year. Remembering it would have been so very appropriate, and right.
There were other off-site memorials and there will be another in Munich this September. But, I have to wonder (and I'm not the paranoid sort, believe me) what sort of acknowledgement there might have been last night had those athletes and coaches in 1972 been British, or American, or Nicaraguan, or (dare I say) athletes from Rogge's native Belgium.