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In the Pipeline: Making noise over minute of silence

July 25, 2012|By Chris Epting
  • Chris Epting with Shirley Babashoff.
Chris Epting with Shirley Babashoff. (Charles Epting,…)

With the Olympics starting this coming week, I wanted to point out that this year marks the 40th anniversary of the worst day in Olympic history.

In 1972, at the Munich games, eight Palestinian terrorists killed two Israeli athletes and took nine hostages in the Olympic village. The terrorists ordered that the Israelis release 200 Arab inmates being held in prison. As you may recall, the Israeli government would not negotiate, thus starting a tense 20-hour, televised standoff.

Finally, the terrorists ordered the Germans to supply them with a plane to Egypt. The West German government, after agreeing, then tried to rescue the hostages at the airport. Tragically, all nine Israeli athletes and coaches, five Palestinians, and a German police officer were killed in the battle that resulted.

To commemorate the horrible anniversary, the Israeli government requested that the International Olympic Committee honor the tragedy with a minute of silence at this summer's games in London. And the IOC refused.

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It offered little in the way of a reason. IOC spokesman Andrew Mitchell told CNN that that the victims were honored at the Munich games back in '72, and that periodically victims are honored at other occasions, such as IOC sessions.

But so what? Who sees those events? And if Israel is asking for a mere minute, why not simply agree to it?

IOC President Jacques Rogge offered the following bland comment: "What happened in Munich in 1972 strengthened the determination of the Olympic Movement to contribute more than ever to building a peaceful and better world by educating young people through sport practiced without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit."

So why I am I writing about this? First, I think it is outrageous that the IOC would reject such a simple, heartfelt request. Forty years is a long time, and as the writer and philosopher George Santayana said, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

And this slaughter did not just affect Israelis. This was an assault on the world (and if you didn't know, one of the Israeli athletes, David Berger, was actually from Cleveland, Ohio).

But the main reason I'm writing about this is that living in Fountain Valley is an athlete who was not just a medalist at those games, she's also had her own run-ins with the IOC as it applies to medals that many (myself included) believe should be awarded to her and her teammates.

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