It’s only 60 seconds.
But that’s a minute too long for the International Olympics Committee, which this week refused to honor the 11 Israeli Olympians slain during the 1972 Munich Games with a minute of silence.
Lest anyone think only Israelis and Jews care about this issue, others supporting the minute of silence include President Barack Obama, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and legislative bodies in the United States, Germany, Canada, Australia and elsewhere.
More than 100,000 people from around the world have signed an online petition demanding that the IOC honor the athletes and coaches murdered by Palestinian terrorists 40 years ago.
Instead, IOC president Jacques Rogge said the opening ceremony of the London Games “is an atmosphere that is not fit to remember such a tragic incident.”
Then what atmosphere, pray tell, would be fitting?
This excuse is nonsense. As much as organizers proclaim the Games are apolitical and strictly about the glory of sport, the Olympics have always been driven — and occasionally riven — by politics.
Consider Hitler vs. Jesse Owens at the 1936 Berlin Games. Or the African-American athletes’ black-fisted salute during their medal ceremony at the 1968 Mexico City Games. How about the U.S. boycott of the 1980 Moscow Games, and the Soviet Union’s counter-boycott of the Los Angeles Olympiad four years later?
The IOC thinks and acts like a mini–United Nations, navigating choppy geopolitical waters, and not always skillfully. It’s as if it fears granting the minute of silence would outrage those who honor the 1972 terrorists as heroes.
Clearly, the IOC calculated that the price of denying the minute of silence was lower than the price of going through with it.
Thankfully, some are taking matters into their own hands. NBC Olympics host Bob Costas has promised he will conduct his own on-air minute of silence when the Israeli team marches into the Olympics stadium for the opening ceremony.
The issue has gone viral. The minute of silence seems to have gotten nearly as much media attention as the Games themselves. People are thinking about Munich, and remembering. Perhaps this will have to suffice when it comes to honoring the memory of the slain.
As we go to press, there is little indication that Rogge will change his mind before the opening ceremony. Absent that, let us say simply that we remember those awful days 40 years ago, and we honor our innocent dead.
May their memory be for a blessing.