Olympic Brotherhood: Lebanese Athletes Refuse to Ride on Bus With Israelis
Peace, brotherhood, and good sportsmanship -- these are the Olympic ideals, we're told, that the games are all about.
Of course, greed, commercial exploitation, and corruption make up the true "Olympic spirit," but no one wants to counter the fairy tale.
And part of that fairy tale is that athletes -- even from warring countries -- get along perfectly, leaving conflict and bad feelings behind them as they meet in the spirit of good, clean fun and competition.
Perhaps we should ask the Lebanese delegation how the fairy tale is working out.
Members of the Lebanese delegation to the 2016 Olympic Games refused to travel on the same bus as their Israeli counterparts to the opening ceremony in Rio on Friday, with some attempting to block athletes from entering the vehicle, according to a report by an Israeli trainer who claimed to have witnessed the scene.
“I kept on insisting that we board the bus and said that if the Lebanese did not want to board as well they are welcome to leave,” Udi Gal, the Israeli sailing team trainer, wrote in a Facebook post Friday.
The bus driver opened the door, but this time the head of the Lebanese delegation blocked the aisle and entrance. The organizers wanted to avoid an international and physical incident and sent us away to a different bus.”
So far, no official response on behalf of the delegations was given regarding the incident. The Olympic organizing committee has not yet offered any statement about the incident either.
For the 2016 Olympic Games which officially opened on Friday, Israel proudly showed off its largest delegation ever, with 47 athletes competing in 17 sports. Israel’s delegation also includes 34 coaches and about 25 support staff.
No, it's not surprising given the war that Israel fought against Lebanon in 2006. Nor is it surprising that the predominantly Muslim Lebanese delegation would treat the Israeli athletes as if they had cooties.
In ancient times, there may not have been peace, love, and brotherhood between the constantly warring city states of Greece, but as a religious festival, the Olympic games meant that all fighting would cease for the duration.
This is apparently too much to ask of Lebanese Muslims, who appear not to have taken the Olympic oath to heart.