Like many others, last night I watched the opening ceremony of the 2016 Olympic games in Rio de Janeiro on TV. I waited impatiently for the Israeli delegation to march in, hoping that NBC won’t break for commercials during their march into the stadium. Luckily they didn’t, and I got to see the Israeli flag carried proudly.
As the Israeli delegation entered the stadium, I expected the broadcasters to mention the Munich massacre of 1972. – The broadcasters didn’t.
I’m not sure how to feel about it:
On one hand I want the world to remember. On the other hand, I also want the coverage of the Olympic games to focus on the competing athletes , to tell us about them. The 20 seconds that the Israeli athletes are on the screen should be about their achievements and aspirations. There’s just not enough time to cover it all before the TV camera shifts its attention to the next delegation.
As a compromise, I took comfort in the fact that for the first time, more than four decades after they were held hostage and then murdered, the 11 Israeli victims of the 1972 Munich Olympics massacre were commemorated in an official International Olympic Committee ceremony in Rio on Thursday (August 4th 2016). Something that the families of the victims fought for since 1972. I know that most Israelis and most Jews around the world will never forget and that’s good enough for me.
Rhythmic gymnast Neta Rivkin holds Israel’s blue-and-white flag at the opening ceremony of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
The 1972 Israeli delegation to the Munich Olympic games
It just happened that the night before I watched the movie Schindler’s List again. I haven’t seen it since it came out in 1994. The memories about the Holocaust, still fresh in my mind after watching the movie, the immediate association with the 1972 massacre that comes up every time I see an Israeli Olympic delegation marches into an Olympic stadium, and the Israeli flag carried proudly by Israeli athletes, sent a strong message:
We are here to stay as an Olympic team, as an Israeli nation, and as Jewish people.
No one was competing, no medals were awarded. However, for me, this was the winning moment: Watching Israeli athletes marching on the Olympic field once again. This is my highlight of the Rio Olympic Games.
Best wishes to you, the Israeli delegation to Rio. Godspeed
A memorial in honor of Israeli Olympic athletes killed by Palestinian gunmen at the 1972 Munich Olympics stands in the Olympic Village ahead of the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro (Photo: AP)
Israeli & Jewish Olympians soar since the 1972 Munich Massacre
Remembering the 1972 Israeli Olympic Athletes