Forget the terrorists ― Olympics are non-negotiable

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Forget the terrorists ― Olympics are non-negotiable

What’s the scariest possible foe? A 550-pound alligator that hasn’t eaten in a month? A meteorite on a collision course with your house? Man’s eternal nemesis, the mosquito, said to kill 2.5 million people a year? No. Often, it’s the unseen that puts the most fear into us.
And there is only one way to fight it: one has to show that while he may fear whatever awaits him, he is brave enough to face it.
The 2004 Athens Olympics are right around the corner. The Olympic torch relay starts next month, with the flame itself to be lit on Aug. 13. Yet construction for the games is behind schedule. And now there has been a bombing in Athens, exactly 100 days before the festivities are to kick off.
“There is no connection of this incident with Olympic preparations,” Minister of State Theodoros Roussopoulos said in a statement.
Right. We all know that the blast was connected somehow to the Olympics. Whether this is some group of crazy Olympics-haters or one of the better known Al Qaeda & Co. affiliates, the games are a target, and we cannot permit any circumstances to interrupt them.
If worse comes to worst, we’ll sit at the stadiums in bulletproof vests and Kevlar helmets, sweltering under the August sun. Athletes will be guarded around the clock, even in the bathrooms if necessary. Objects flying near stadiums without permission, regardless of size, will be brought down with Patriot missiles. But we will not cancel the games. No way, Jose.
Obviously, today’s terrorists have become stronger than any “axis of evil” nation. Even North Korea, with all its heavy artillery aimed at Seoul, kept its trigger fingers in check during the 1988 Seoul Olympics, knowing that retaliation would far exceed anything gained in an attack.
Terrorists, on the other hand, seem not to shy away from the idea of using the Olympics as a bargain chip, since they don’t have a return address. And that’s what has empowered these individual lunatics. It’s not that they are brave. They are just a bunch of psychopaths unable to distinguish between right and wrong, something even a five-year-old kid can do.
A quote from a Reuters interview with an international security expert advising Athens tells us what we can expect: “The one main gap the Greeks have yet to bridge is in preparing for the sort of coordination demanded by major terrorist attacks, especially when there are biological or chemical agents involved,” the security expert said.
By showing our resolve, we can set the cornerstone for a global norm: that no terrorists can ever succeed in preventing normal human activities. Not that I think it will happen, but canceling the games would be an open surrender to these cowards. As it is, we all have to shoulder the risk and cross our fingers. Barring some divine intervention, the games must go on.


by Brian Lee
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