Jewish World Review Feb. 8, 2002 / 26 Shevat, 5762

Greg Crosby

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Games People Play -- THE Olympic games. What do you think they stand for? Are they simply and completely an exhibition of personal athletic abilities? Or do they hold a significance beyond the mere physical attributes of individuals? Should these games be utterly non-political? Non-nationalistic? Should they seek to break down country barriers and celebrate the concept that all of us are citizens of one world?

Whatever you may think the Olympic games are or wish they could be notwithstanding, the fact is, the athletic participants in the games are there representing their respective homelands. That’s why they enter the arena at the opening ceremony proudly carrying the flag of their country. That’s why the national anthem of their nation is played during the presentation of their medals. Like it or not the games are nationalistic and we all know it. That’s why we tend to root for the players from our own countries.

So why does the International Olympic Committee have a problem with American athletes showing their pride and love for their country? The tattered American flag from ground zero, that same flag which was hoisted at the World Trade Center and which flew at the World Series and Super Bowl, was to be carried by the U.S. team members into the stadium at the opening ceremonies. The IOC said no. They said that allowing the American players to do that would be “too political -- too controversial.” Who were they afraid of offending -- terrorists?

The public outrage over the IOC’s stupid decision must have been enormous because the next day they suddenly changed their mind and now the flag will be carried into the arena and flown beside the Olympic flame. However ... the U.S. organizers have been told by the International Committee to tone down overt shows of patriotism and not to honor the victims of September 11.

Francois Carrard, the IOC’s director said, “These games are held in the United States and we have deep respect and sympathy for everything that has happened since September 11, but let’s not forget the games is a universal event.” What a profoundly dumbheaded statement!

The fact is, if ever there was a universal event, it was the attack against the civilized world on September 11th at the World Trade Center. Someone should tell Monsieur Carrard that people from 86 different countries were killed that day, not just Americans. That tattered flag is a symbol of all the lives that were lost and the resolve of decent people everywhere to root out evil and put an end to terrorist attacks on innocents in all countries. Or is that “too political?”

In a related story, according to the Drudge Report, the IOC has banned the flag representing a newly liberated Afghanistan from being flown at the opening ceremonies. Afghan diplomats planned for a single female Afghan athlete to carry the new flag, symbolizing its new role in the world, but the IOC has refused to allow Afghanistan to fly it’s new flag at the games. Why? Too political?

Afghan’s new ambassador in Washington, D.C. is hopeful his contacts at the U.N. might break the deadlock with the IOC in time for the opening ceremonies. We’ll see. But even if the IOC changes its mind, as they did with the American flag, the question remains -- just what is the real agenda of the International Olympic Committee? My guess is, that part of it is to promote international moral relativism. You know, one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.

It would probably do the IOC’s heart good to know that NBC has decided to remove the patriotic red, white and blue from its on-air Peacock “bug” beginning with its coverage Friday night of the Olympic opening ceremonies. Seems NBC executives didn’t want to keep such a visibly pro-USA symbol on-air during an international event. Just too darn political, I guess.

JWR contributor Greg Crosby, former creative head for Walt Disney publications, has written thousands of comics, hundreds of children's books, dozens of essays, and a letter to his congressman. A freelance writer in Southern California, you may contact him by clicking here.

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