Remembering the Munich Massacre

There's been some controversy (what else is new?) lately as the IOC debated over whether or not to include a moment of silence during the opening ceremony to honor the 40th anniversary of the Munich massacre. Eleven Israeli athletes and coaches were held hostage and killed by Palestinian terrorists in what has to have been the worst act of its kind that ever occurred at the Olympics. I myself have seen multiple links to petitions in favor of this moment of silence.

However, IOC President Jacques Rogge has announced that there will be no moment of silence because, "“We feel that the Opening Ceremony is an atmosphere that is not fit to remember such a tragic incident."

As both a Jew and a bit of an Olympics purist, I can argue vehemently for both sides. I don't even know if being Jewish has much to do with it at all, but there's a part of me that's absolutely appalled. Yes, the opening ceremony is supposed to be a great celebratory event, welcoming the world to the Olympics and all that. And yes, bringing down the mood isn't an ideal situation. But the kidnapping and killing of almost an entire Olympic team wasn't exactly an ideal situation either, now, was it? At Vancouver in 2010, an athlete died in a training run on the day of the opening ceremony, and they consented to bring down the mood enough to give him a moment of silence. Granted, that death was fresh, but the Munich massacre was a horrifying and despicable act of humanity. Even back in '72, the Games were only shut down for a day. Again, that's understandable, but it feels like this incident is being all but swept under the rug.

On the other hand, the Olympics are not about stuff like this. Politics are, for all intents and purposes, kept out of the matter entirely. The fact that this happened at an Olympics shouldn't make a difference. Making any kind of gesture in support of the Israeli athletes might have huge consequences with the competing Arab nations and incite more violence from Palestinian terrorist groups. We really have no way of knowing.

Is there a winning solution in this kind of situation? I would say that there could be some kind of memorial set up so the ceremonies aren't involved at all, but all that would be is a magnet for conflict. It could be defaced or destroyed or even become a target, a site of more violence. Would it be worth it?

Honestly, I think I support the IOC's decision. Showing that kind of support for one side of a political situation could do a lot of harm, and holding a separate ceremony in Germany on the anniversary of the event is a very appropriate solution. I just cannot -- cannot -- agree with Rogge's statement.

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