What if they held an Olympic-sanctioned swim meet and a white kid from Canada or the United States or Germany or Norway decided he would not even come near the pool because one of the other competitors was a black racer from South Africa? Imagine the uproar — that’s totally not OK!
What if they held an Olympic-sanctioned track meet and a Hindu runner from India said, no, not even gonna go onto the track because the young woman in the next lane is a Muslim from Pakistan. People would go, what — you can’t do that?!
What if they held an Olympic-sanctioned gymnastics meet and a teenage American girl said, no, not going anywhere near that balance beam because the teen whose feet touched it just before me was North Korean? The mob would be on fire, saying that’s not the Olympic spirit and, besides, what does such geopolitical tension have to do with a sports competition, especially one primarily involving teenage girls?
The three key Olympic values are respect, excellence and friendship. The entire Olympic notion is premised on fair play: no discrimination on grounds of race, religion, gender or politics. When the athletes of the world come together and connect, the ignorance and prejudice that too often fuels stereotype and misconception can fade away, yielding to the essential truth that we — human beings, each and every one of us — are more alike than we are different.
Yet for years, there has been one double standard that has emerged time and again. It is applied, and ferociously, to Israel and Israeli athletes.