I’ve always followed the Olympic Games. It’s part of my whole life. I remember watching the 1976 Montreal games, the 1984 Los Angeles games, and I even attended the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games in Atlanta. I stayed up half the night to watch the stunning 2004 Athens games.
My step-father died during the 2008 Beijing games. My last memory of him being lucid was watching Michael Phelps sweep the 200m and 400m medleys.
I watched the London games opening ceremony from a suite at Turner Field during a Braves game. I think more people were watching the televisions than the field.
But this year, I am more than disappointed about the Olympics. It’s not that I have anything against Rio, or Brazil, or some cause for the poor whose favelas were bulldozed. It’s worse than that.
This is my column for the local paper. Read it and you’ll understand.
This might come as a shock to you, but the Olympic Games have always been political. At least the modern games beginning in 1896. The U.S. has played host to the summer games four times and the winter games an equal number to lead all nations in hosting. Russia and its former form as the USSR hosted one of each.
The 1932 summer games in Los Angeles was surrounded in pageantry. America crushed the world with 103 medals, 41 of them gold, more than three times the second place gold earner, Italy. In 1936, the International Olympic Committee worked closely with the Nazi regime to craft a bigger spectacle than the Los Angeles games. The Berlin games introduced the now-familiar torch relay.
Hitler’s intensive national sports program yielded 33 gold medals, beating the U.S. and sweeping the equestrian events. But Jesse Owens and the underdog University of Washington sculling team took the headlines from the Fuhrer. Yet Hitler won his propaganda war.
Sprinters Sam Stoller and Marty Glickman were the only two Jewish members of the U.S. team. U.S. Olympic Team head Avery Brundage pulled them from Owens’ 4 x 100 relay team on the day of the race. African-American Owens got his gold, but no Jews stood on the platform with him.
Since the Nazis censored athletes’ mail and limited their contact, Owens never received a letter sent to him at the Olympic village encouraging him to refuse the medal from the fascist anti-Semitic dictator’s regime.
Germany again hosted the summer games in 1972. In those games, early on the 10th day of competition, a group of terrorists infiltrated the Olympic village and took nine hostages — all Israelis. Two who resisted were killed on the spot. The rest — athletes, coaches and officials were held for nearly a day and a half as the games went on amid an awful and surreal standoff.
Brundage, who was then the IOC president, did not stop the competition for twelve hours, until the political pressure was too great. German officials refused Israel’s offer to send Israeli special forces to deal with the terror attack. The Germans badly bungled the rescue attempt. They watched, horrified, as the terrorists mowed down their hostages with an AK-47 at point-blank range, then tossed a hand grenade in the helicopter where they were tied up. The ensuing explosion incinerated the Israelis.
The three surviving Black September terrorists were released by West Germany 49 days later after terrorists hijacked Lufthansa flight 615. They received a hero’s welcome upon their arrival in Libya (where the bodies of their dead comrades were treated as martyrs).
On September 6, Brundage spoke at a memorial service for the dead Israelis attended by 80,000 at the Olympic Stadium. He said very little about the murdered athletes, but went on about the problem of “professionalism” in Olympic sport and banning Rhodesia’s participation. It would be the last games for Brundage, whose rise to power was directly connected to the Nazi games in 1936.
In Rio de Janeiro, the 105th Olympiad opened the summer games. While the world focuses on Zika, water contamination, and the plight of Brazil’s displaced poor who had their favela neighborhoods plowed under to make room for the dazzling Olympic facilities, there’s other dark politics simmering beneath the games’ shiny surface.
This year, the Palestinian Authority is sending its own team to the games. Though there’s no actual Palestinian state, and in fact no large ethnic group that doesn’t include native Israelis who can claim the label “Palestinian,” the Palestinian Olympic team has one statement to make: Israel is their enemy.
Jibril Rajoub leads the Palestinian Olympic Committee. He is a terrorist. He spreads hatred, and can’t even celebrate the peace and purity of kids playing soccer. Rajoub went apoplectic in 2014 when preteen Palestinians and Israelis played in a “peace match.” “It was a disgrace to use sports for this purpose,” he said. But it’s not a disgrace to use sport to promote terror.
This man has honored murderers like Muhannad Halabi, who stabbed two Israelis to death and wounded two others in Jerusalem by naming a ping-pong tournament in his name. He also attended a boxing match honoring Ali Hassan Salameh, one of the Munich Fatah (Black September is Fatah) terrorists.
Rajoub is a longtime Fatah terror booster and political hack. He belongs nowhere near the Olympic Games. The last time terrorists attended the Olympics, Israelis were murdered in Germany. Now, the games honor terrorists like Rajoub. Shame on them.