Cooperation key to safe Olympics
This summer marks 42 years since the Israeli Olympic team was taken hostage and murdered in the Munich summer games in 1972. It will be 18 years since a backpack exploded at the Atlanta games, killing two and injuring 111.
It’s been a little more than eight months since bombs exploded at the Boston Marathon, killing and maiming.
With that grim toll in mind, it’s time to celebrate what’s supposed to be good about humankind, with the Olympic spirit awakened during the Winter Games of Sochi, Russia, Feb. 7-23.
It is with trepidation that the world approaches these games, given the ongoing terrorism in the region – though still hundreds of miles from President Vladimir Putin’s “ring of steel” security clampdown on Sochi. Now comes word that three women with supposed terrorist links and motives are somewhere inside the security zone.
We agree with U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, chairman of the Homeland Security committee, who said while the security the Russians have put in place to keep out further terrorists is impressive, there is the specter of possible terrorists already living or working within the secure zone before security was tightened. Added to that is the knowledge that at least one of the suspected terrorist women has made her way past the security into the zone.
Now is not the time for old divisiveness to resurface. The Americans and the Russians both boycotted the Summer Games on each other’s turf back in the early 1980s as the Cold War raged in its final years.
While the old feelings of the cold warriors have been rising of late over issues ranging from Syria to gay rights to the NSA data collection program, the Sochi games could be a unifier. Law enforcers from each country have the same motives – to keep terrorists from striking.
The interests of two powerful nations that had led the world in decades past can join and bring the power of Russia and the United States to work for the common good of all.
And that would be the best tribute to the spirit of the Olympics, to the desire of men and women to peacefully compete while representing their countries, to be proud and competitive but not at war.
We hope McCaul’s suggestion for better cooperation between the intelligence services of the two countries is heeded. This, for a change, isn’t about civil liberties suffering for security’s sake. This is about protecting a world event, and a world target.