The subject at the time was the announcement by some Muslim Olympic athletes that they would not compete with/against/at the same time as Israeli athletes. I said to him – do you ever notice how it seems to be the Muslim athletes, diplomats, actors, whatever who refuse to participate with the Israelis but seldom the other way around?
I don’t for a second pretend to understand all the political subtext that goes on in the Middle East and never will, but I think that sport was supposed to be one of the few places where political differences could be set aside and competition for the sake of competition was the goal – to determine the fastest, the strongest, the most agile, the best in their class. Nearly all countries in the world are not as small minded but Iran and others are. That’s disturbing.
I realize this is the 40th anniversary of the Munich massacre of the Israeli athletes and I understand that tensions, political and otherwise will be much higher because of that but I think the International Olympic Committee made the right decision in not stopping everything down for a remembrance ceremony - because we need to move on rather than bring up the horrors of so long ago. Those who need to know and remember will remember. 95% of the contemporary athletes weren’t born then – for them it is merely history – important history but history.
Just as I would say to the Muslim athletes who refuse to compete with the Jews, give it up and move on … I would say the same to the Israelis and their allies who want moments of silence and remembrance ceremonies. Those who need to remember it will – those who don’t, won’t.
I wish all the Olympians the best of luck and hope that the International Olympic Committee members stop living like royalty and expecting to be treated as such. They are sports representatives not world leaders.