Just a minute, that's all

By Jennifer Lipman, July 19, 2012

Perhaps they are concerned Arab nations will react badly to a silence in memory of 11 men – Israeli men - murdered for representing their country at a sporting event that is supposed to be above politics?

Maybe the fear is that a minute's silence this year will set a precedent, which could cause problems if Turkey is successful in its bid to host the 2020 games. Or is it that they just don't want to hold a memorial that could be interrupted by anti-Israel protesters, as has happened in so many other non-political events.

Whatever the reason, if ever there was a time for a back-flip at the IOC, it is now. The games open in one week, and all that Ankie Spitzer and her supporters want is one minute to remember September 1972.

The 11 Israeli athletes, and the West German police officer who died during the rescue operation, deserve to be remembered 40 years after terrorists brought tragedy and anguish to a symbol of unity.

If the IOC can close half the roads in London, force Saudi Arabia to field female athletes, or threaten greasy spoons for daring to use the Olympic logo, then they can withstand complaints from nations – Arab or otherwise – that would rather the Munich massacre be overlooked this summer.

Do they really expect that athletes representing countries with less than amicable relations with Israel will get back on their planes and boycott the competition as a result? That they will forfeit the chance of medals to make a point about Israel?

In politics, small incidents can have long-lasting consequences for international relations. But the Olympics happen every four years; it can hardly be a concern that a silence now will mean boycotts and trouble when the games go to Brazil in 2016.

The IOC has seven days to change their mind. It would be to their credit if they did.

Last updated: 11:16am, July 19 2012