Just one minute in Rio
We hope that the IOC will cease its exclusionary policies toward Israel, and it can begin with just one minute.
IOC PRESIDENT Jacques Rogge Photo: Reuters
Now that the 2012 Olympic Games have ended it would be pertinent to look beyond
what was a well-run event that showcased the best of international sporting
Beyond the headlines of broken athletic records or patriotic
cheer, Israel has once again been singled out in an international forum. It is
easy to understand why Israel is the frequent target in institutions like the
United Nations where Arab and Islamic nations wield an almost insurmountable
automatic majority for any issue, or the repression of any
However, the Olympic Games are meant to be an event void of
politics and narrow interests and instead a time to promote global unity and
brotherhood through sporting achievement.
Nevertheless, once again Israel
was singled out for treatment that befouls the very foundations upon which the
Olympic spirit was built. Once again the simple plea that 11 Israeli athletes
murdered in the Olympic Village during the Olympic Games in Munich hosted by the
International Olympic Committee be remembered in front of the world during a
minute of silence at the Opening Ceremony was rejected or ignored.
few days before the opening ceremony we were told by IOC President Jacques Rogge
that “the opening ceremony is an atmosphere that is not fit to remember such a
However, the Opening Ceremony did include moments of
silence and respect for British citizens and others around the world that died
during terror attacks or wars. We can only conclude that Rogge meant that the
opening ceremony was not fit to remember a tragic incident involving
The IOC president also said a minute of silence was not part of
the protocol of Opening Ceremony, yet many previous opening ceremonies held a
minute’s silence. It was claimed that it was too political, yet many political
causes have been remembered and utilized during opening ceremonies.
finally ran out of excuses.
Rogge lost our respect and lost his ability
to legitimately represent the Olympic ideal that all are equal in the
international family of nations. He was exposed as a hypocrite and as someone
who was led by political interests and not the interests of the Olympic Games,
whose darkest moment saw 11 Israeli athletes tortured and murdered in the
Olympic Village, during the Olympic Games under the auspices and supposed
protection of the IOC.
Rogge and the IOC also failed to condemn the
letter sent to him by the Palestinian Olympic Committee head calling for a
rejection of the minute of silence as “racist” and where the Palestinian
official media still refers to those who murdered the Israeli Olympians, during
what they describe as the “Munich Operation,” as “stars” whose path should be
followed. Rogge apparently has little to say about the head of an official
Olympic delegation who calls the memorializing of murdered athletes
Perhaps we should not be surprised by an organizational
leadership which enables segregation at its sporting events or official
practices. During the warm-up for competition, the Lebanese Judo team in London
was infuriated to discover that the Israeli judo athletes were training right
next to them. The Lebanese threatened to cancel their own training session
unless the organizers installed a partition between the teams, which was
Now just imagine that a team of white Olympic athletes
refused to practice next to a team of black Olympic athletes. Would this too be
accepted in the same casual manner? While there may be political differences
between nations, to accept a call to create a physical partition between
athletes merely because of their nationality enables a type of casual racism
which the IOC has enabled in its acceptance.
While the IOC claimed they
were clamping down on and even punishing athletes who refuse to compete against
Israelis, apparently refusing to share the same air in a gym doesn’t fall under
The IOC can take one little step to rectify this
situation. Now, a full four years before the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de
Janeiro, the IOC can state officially and unequivocally that it will hold a
minute silence during the opening ceremony for the 11 murdered Israeli athletes.
Once it is be stated publicly and officially, it will be difficult to retract,
and each nation which has a problem with a minute of silence for murdered
athletes will have four years to come to terms with it.
parliaments, organizations and individuals around the world supported our call
for “Just One Minute.” The campaign will not go away, we have only just begun
and it will only continue to create awareness around the globe.
been emboldened by the impact of our campaign. For the first time, millions of
people learned about the fate of the 11 murdered Israeli athletes and understood
the long-standing threat posed to Israeli citizens all over the world by
terrorist groups and the states that support them.
It also exposed the
hypocrisy Israel faces in international fora where there appears to be one rule
for the Jewish state and another for others. We hope that the IOC will cease its
exclusionary policies toward Israel, and it can begin with just one
The writer is Israel’s deputy minister of foreign affairs.