Washington, Jul 26 - The Olympics kick-off tomorrow in London. A lot of attention has been focused on the opening ceremonies – will the IOC allow a minute of silence to recognize the 11 Israeli victims of terrorism on the 40th anniversary of the Munich Games? I’ll always remember Jim McKay’s agonizing "they are all gone" announcement… Everyone thinks a minute of silence is more than appropriate – but it likely won’t happen, as the IOC has consistently resisted, fearing an Arab boycott.
But there is another "boycott" that has caught my attention. Word comes that Iran’s judo champion is sick. Really sick. Too sick to travel to the Olympic Games. Turns out that the Iranian would likely have had to face an Israeli in his quest to medal.
Maybe he really did come down with a "critical digestive system infection" – sounds serious. But in 2004 and 2008, Iranian Olympic athletes had injuries that forced them to withdraw (they would have likely faced Israelis). And last year, the Iranian judo champion admitting to throwing matches: "If I won, I would have had to compete with an Israeli athlete." In other words, he was afraid of losing to an Israeli. This "athlete," of course, is just a cog in corrupt regime. The Iranian sports minister said "not competing with Zionist athletes is one of the values and sources of pride of the Iranian people and its athletes."
It is often written that countries are personified by their sports teams. A few weeks ago, the European financial crisis played out on a soccer field when indebted Greece played taskmaster Germany. The German bankers won. Here, the judo case is revealing for what it says about the leaders in Tehran: cowards.