On the morning of July 7, 2005, a series of four terrorist bomb blasts shook London, taking the lives of 52 innocent people and injuring more than 700 others.
The blasts occurred just one day after it was announced that London would host the 2012 games. Some speculated that the bombings were tied to that announcement.
Not so, said a spokesman for the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on July 8. “This is not at all related to the Olympic Games,” she said.
As the facts unfolded, that proved to be true. Nevertheless, last Friday evening, July 27, the IOC devoted six minutes of the Olympics opening ceremony to a beautifully choreographed and moving tribute to the 52 men, women, and children who died on what has become known as 7/7.
The tribute began with a “wall of remembrance,” which featured photographs of those who were killed that morning. The Scottish singer Emeli SandÃ© then stood on a stage and sang a haunting rendition of the Christian hymn “Abide With Me.” Performers – dressed in red costumes from head to toe – danced their way through smoke and very fluid yellow-and-red lighting, which provided an eerie interpretation of explosion and fire. It was a spectacular tribute, beautifully staged, and we are outraged by it.
We are outraged not because the IOC chose to remember the 52 who fell on 7/7, but because it refused to do the same for the 11 Israeli athletes who were murdered at the Munich Olympic Games 40 years ago.
We are outraged because the IOC blatantly lied to everyone in denying the request of so many people from so many countries that the Olympics recognize and remember the Munich 11. “We feel that the opening ceremony is an atmosphere that is not fit to remember such a tragic incident,” said the IOC’s president, Jacques Rogge, on July 24.
Think through this statement. The massacre of 11 Olympic athletes kidnapped from the Olympic Village during the Olympic Games is not a fit subject for tribute by the International Olympic Committee, but the deaths of 52 people in an attack unrelated to the Olympics, occurring in a year when no games were being played, and far away from Singapore, where the IOC was meeting on July 7, 2005, is a fit subject for tribute. Hence our outrage. Not only is a double standard evident, but it is either an act of blatant anti-Semitism or one that defies logical explanation.
We are outraged, as well, that NBC-TV deliberately cut away from its broadcast of the opening ceremony just as the 7/7 tribute was about to begin. We wonder whether NBC did so because it feared that too many viewers would become angered by the IOC’s obvious spit-in-the-eye duplicity and would stop watching the games even before they began. NBC desperately needs the ratings boost the games are giving it.
A petition drive launched by the Rockland, N.Y., JCC garnered 107,000 signatures calling for a measly one minute of silence for the Munich 11, not a huge six-minute production number. Among the signers were the United States president, Barack Obama, and his presumptive opponent, Mitt Romney (who rejected a minute of silence for the Munich 11 when he helmed the Salt Lake City Olympics 10 years ago). A minute of silence was not an overreaching request.
Other world leaders and several parliaments throughout Europe and elsewhere joined in the call as well, but it was all to no avail.
Every time you watch the Olympics this year, you add money to the IOC’s coffers. Every time you buy a product made by an official Olympics sponsor, you add money to the IOC’s coffers. Every time you buy a product with an official Olympics logo, you add money to the IOC’s coffers.
We are not advocating a boycott. We are advocating that you write to NBC, to the other networks, to the official sponsors, and to the games’ television advertisers, and tell them of your discontent. Demand from them a pledge that they will not support the Olympic Games from now until forever unless the IOC allows one minute of silence for the Munich 11 at every Olympics going forward.
Getting the people who actually fill the IOC’s coffers to put pressure on the IOC is the only avenue we have left.