One of the less publicised controversies of the London Olympics has been the question of whether to mark the 40th anniversary of the shooting of members of the Israeli team at the 1972 Games. In the end, the organisers settled for a low-key ceremony in the Olympic Village.
Earlier today, the BBC website published some reflections on the possible sporting legacy of the Games and this remark from a member of the British shooting team caught my eye:
“I wouldn’t have thought there would be a large spike after the Games,” said 40-year-old South Wales-based shooter Elena Allen.
The cost of shooting is so high, which it wasn’t four years ago. That will put people off.”
… to which the obvious response is – “Good!”
Now I’m sure that Ms Allen and the overwhelming majority of people who shoot for sport in the UK are individuals of the highest integrity who handle firearms in a responsible manner. But should shooting even be classed as a sport; let alone an Olympic sport? After all, it doesn’t really involve any great physical activity – it’s more a case of demonstrating your skill with a piece of technology.
You could argue that the Olympics have their origin in training for war, but nobody’s going around picking people off with a javelin or a bow and arrow and these activities do, at least demand, a degree of physical strength and dexterity.
The idea of an Olympic truce was always a well-intentioned pipe-dream but why not make the Games a firearm-free event? Wouldn’t that be a powerful symbol of peaceable intentions and meaningful living memorial to those murdered athletes?