Once in a while you meet a celebrity or someone in the news. I’ve met a lot of people. Including the pleasure of meeting several Olympic athletes in my day. First time was in Los Angeles during the Olympics in 1984. I recall being at the Hard Rock in Beverly Center and interacting with a number of athletes representing their countries at the bar. I enjoyed the chatter and the company.
Watching on TV is one thing. Elbow to elbow with a world class sprinter is another. You know, someone whose job it is to be fast. Faster than the best runners in the world.
Like many fans of the Olympics, watching the opening ceremony is always amazing to me. I watched the Athens opening ceremony from a hotel room in Orlando after dodging a hurricane passing through the neighborhood back in Tampa. I won’t mention that I moved into the path of the hurricane by evacuating.
I also remember the Munich Olympics of 1972. Like the rest of the planet, I watched in horror as terror took front and center. Images burned in. I recall the darkness of those days and dread their return. We live in a world today where sensibilities are challenged by threats and terrorism isn’t a once in a while thing.
This year, the Olympics come to London. The host of the Summer Games gets to show off their city. Preparations made years in advance all come together for the two weeks the world stops and watch the best in their sport represent their country. Run, row, throw, spar, drive to the hoop… all for the gold. The Olympics belong to the people. Keeping the people safe is another story. Enter the missiles, the military, and the protective services poised at the ready.
This time around, the RAF will have Typhoons at the ready. Surface to air missiles will be perched on rooftops. Security will not be limited to the Olympic Park. This year, security measures will be dispersed across neighborhoods.
Protest groups call it a “climate of fear.” The RAF calls it a necessity. No one wants violence when staging an event like this.
I am hoping to experience the wonder of world class competition. Athletes placing politics on hold while they participate in one of the greatest sports events in the world. This time, brought to you by the citizens of London. Willing to share. Willing to create Olympic memories. Willing to risk everything peaceful to bring you a festival of sport.
Let’s celebrate the event with a peaceful beginning, a peaceful middle, and a closing ceremony where the athletes say goodbye to competition and hello to their futures.
- London 2012 Olympics: IOC rejects silence for Munich victims (guardian.co.uk)
- Official papers reveal UK government tried to ‘scotch the myth of Manchester’s weather’ to help city’s failed 2000 Olympics bid (menmedia.co.uk)
- IOC: No silence for Munich at London Games (thejc.com)
- Security for London Olympics (coudal.com)
- Olympics Continues to Reject a Moment of Silence for Israeli Athletes Killed in Munich (theatlanticwire.com)
- National Sport: Olympic Flame to arrive in UK (coventrytelegraph.net)