This year the Olympics is to be held in London beginning July 27th. The idea for this column came from my old associate and partner Michael McLees.
Like myself, Michael has been involved in numerous Olympiads. The countries and the cities have been varied and many... Mexico City, Seoul, Sarajevo, Nogano, Melbourne, Los Angeles, Barcelona, Salt Lake City and Lake Placid to mention a few. Here, I would like to remind all readers that the Olympic logo, five interlocking rings, symbolizing the Five Continents that are all supposed to be competing in peace and harmony
Michael was hired for his technical acumen and me as a volunteer on the administrative and creative side. The behind scenes juggling for position, preparations and the operations which the public never sees, is almost as exciting as the games themselves... equally nerve-wracking.
Although born out of war, the Olympics was created as a peaceful way of settling national differences by athletic competitions. The first documented Summer Games were held every four years in Greece beginning in 776 B.C. The word Olympiad, in case you did not know, in Greek, refers to a four-year interval and was a way of telling time.
The Olympic games were originally limited to free-born Greeks. However, Alexander the Great through his conquests spread Greek Civilization. Part of this culture was the Olympics. In 393 A D, when the Romans conquered Greece, Emperor Theodosius, ordered that the games be abolished.
In April 1896 by order of the King of Greece, the modern era began. The venue was logical, it was Athens. The first 3 Olympiads, 1896, 1900 and 1904 were loosely organized and did not feature multi-national teams.
In 1908, in London's brand new stadium, responsible committees organized the games in every Athletic discipline. Now, once again for the first time since 1948, London is hosting the Olympics in brand new stadiums.
The 1912 games in Stockholm drew 2500 Athletes from 22 nations. Thus it began, multi-national competition and an ever growing desire to participate. From then on until the 1936 games in Berlin, every four years saw another Olympiad. There was no Olympics until 1948, London again was host. The two previous Olympiads (1940, 1944) were cancelled due to World War II.
Ironically, the dictator Adolph Hitler wanted to use the Berlin Games, (1936) as a propaganda vehicle to show off his supposedly Aryan super race. However, the United States team, led by four gold medal winner Jesse Owens, a Black College Student, laid havoc to his plans.
My friend, the late Marty Glickman who at one time was the fabled voice of the NBA's New York Knicks, in 1936 was considered one of the United States three top sprint men was bounced by the then President of the United States Olympic Committee, Avery Brundage, an avowed Anti-Semite and Hitler sympathizer.
Both Marty and Sam Stoller, another Jew, were not allowed to compete on the 400-yard relay team. Unceremoniously the he day before the race they received the news without any explanation .
With these two sprinters out, Ohio State's great Jesse Owens , a son of a sharecropper and grandson of a slave, led the way, for the USA to put the Olympic Torch to Adolph Hitler's plans.
Unfortunately, all too often, the Olympics has had its share of Terrorists and insane acts.
Although no stranger to Political Intrusion, the games in 1972, they were impacted in a most devastating way . With the games being held in Munich, Palestinian Terrorists known as Black September, attacked Israeli Athletes in the Olympic Village.
11 Israeli wrestlers were massacred ... 2 immediately, then 4 later were when a Terrorist blew himself up with a hand grenade. The five remaining hostages were machine-gunned as Television around the world witnessed this horrific event.
Out of the chaos, Broadcast History was made! Announcer Jim Mckay, Host of ABC's Wide World of Sports was on the air for over 18 hours bringing the world accurate and stunning word descriptions.
It also caused the German Federal Government to re-examine its terrorist policies , which at the time were dominated by a pacifist approach adopted at the end of World War II. As a result, the German Government created the elite counterterrorism unit GSG9, similar to the British SAS.
It also led Israel to launch an aggressive counterterrorism campaign known as "Operation Wrath of God", in which those suspected of involvement were tracked down and assassinated.
In 1980, led by the United States, 60 nations boycotted the Moscow Olympics in protest of the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan. In turn, the Soviets and some of their Allies retaliated by boycotting our 1984 Games.
Footnote: A few years later while I was spending a great deal of time doing work, I countless wounded Afghanistan Veterans begging for food, clothing and money on the snowy streets. .
Afghanistan had taken the once powerful Soviet nation from being a 1st world nation to a 3rd world nation. They were no longer meaningful. History is supposed to teach us lessons. I guess we were absent from class the day they taught that lesson.
In 1980, because of the Boycott as President of FOX Sports, I was called upon to create and produce an entire week in our Nation's Capitol honoring our athletes. They had trained all their lives only to be deprived of their 15 minutes of fame.
The Olympic organization did a week of mock games among 4 teams, East, West, North and South. It all culminated in a big extravaganza at the Kennedy Center where the winners were presented medals and a bunch of my friends, Peter Marshal, Leonard Nimoy, Jamie Farr, Patti LaBell, the late Andy Gibb, Irene Cara of Fame all performed gratis.
In 1984, I was stationed at the Boxing Venue and saw first hand the wonderful work of the LAPD. On more than one occasion, they had to bring in dogs to sniff out potentially dangerous explosives. They did their job expeditiously and without incident.
Now, in this day of Terroristic activities, it's London's time to be on the alert. Based on everything I have read that they are ready.
Beginning from the moment David Beckham takes the first step with the Torch from the time it arrives in Land's End at the southwestern tip of England until it is passed through many hands until it reaches London's Olympic Park on July 27th and then throughout the games, they shall be on alert with high expectations and security worries.
They will be on the lookout for the likely attackers, such as dissident Irish terrorist groups who could target the Torch's visit to Northern Ireland. 70 police officers will shadow the Torch.
In 2008, protesters in Chinatown San Francisco and other cities across America marred the Beijing Games.
We all remember what happened in Atlanta during the 1996 Games. A Pipe Bomb believed to be the largest in history planted by Eric Robert Rudolph exploded killing 2 people and injuring 111 others.
London itself will be a lockdown city. The Police will be using every available modern technique as well as many of those that have been tried and true.
Among the modern instruments that will be used are Sonic Guns, which were first employed successfully against the Somali Pirates. They will be used primarily as giant loudspeakers. However, if the Police find themselves in trouble and need to disperse crowds, they can project sound up to 150 decibels, causing pain within a few hundred meters. Both the Police and the Military are preparing for a range of security threats at the Olympics. It's going to cost in the millions of dollars ---
RAF Typhoon Jets will scream back and forth over the Thames, Starstreak service-to-air missile batteries are being set up in East End Parks and on houses, with 10 soldiers manning each one. Army and Navy Helicopters will patrol back and forth armed with snipers hanging from their doors " to shoot down pilots of terrorist planes".
Guards on the London Transit will carry Machine Guns for the first time. Police Special Forces, "trained to kill' will be wearing balaclavas to avoid identification. Naval landing crafts will roam the coast and submarines will be at the ready.
The London Olympics, one might say, is a festival for the Security industry with a running and jumping show as the sideline. It is Lockdown London.
Still with all this preparation, I was able to learn that a worker smuggled a fake bomb into Olympic Park. Going right past many Security Posts undetected. Apparently, there are still a great many flaws to iron out.
Two weeks after the games are over, Susan, a few friends and myself plan to visit London.
God Save The Queen!