The Boston Marathon blasts have taken many by surprise, but what one should marvel at is the fact that few sports events have been hit, says Jaideep Ghosh
Terrorism in sports isn’t as new as many are making it out to be. The 1972 Munich Olympics, which saw the Israeli contingent being decimated after being taken hostage, sowed the seeds of violence in sport. What is dismaying is that some of our NewGen have either forgotten, or are completely ignorant of, this episode. And the worst thing you can do with terrorism or war is to forget.
So when the blast happened, the initial reactions were shock and sadness, even anger, but not surprise. On the contrary, the thought that cropped up immediately was that it wasn’t a matter of ‘if’, but ‘when’ the next sporting event would be struck.
After Munich, there was the blast during the Atlanta Games. Cricket has had its own share of episodes, with the New Zealand side being within feeling distance of at least two blasts, in Colombo and Karachi. These explosions weren’t targeting them, but bullets or shrapnel do not distinguish who they destroy.
All of that was topped up by the shooting incident in Lahore, where the Sri Lankan team were right in the middle of it and it was a miracle that there were no fatalities. There are a few other incidents, but thankfully not as many as you’d think.
One needs to be thankful that these episodes have been few and far between. Given the magnitude of these events, the likes of Olympics or football World Cups, the sheer number of people coming from all walks of life, is a security exercise of mind-boggling proportions.
Added to that is the issue of the city of country’s image. If one were to be too stringent about vetting who would or wouldn’t come into the event, there would definitely be many cases which should be allowed to travel. That would automatically lead to negative publicity, which no one wants.
Take for example the 1996 cricket World Cup. Several countries, including Australia and the West Indies, refused to go to Sri Lanka and play, citing the political situation and terrorism. India and Pakistan then went and played a ‘solidarity’ match in Colombo. It was portrayed as an ‘us’ against ‘them’ duel.
But what if that said solidarity match became a target for terrorists? Political games aside, the fact that such events are so susceptible to strikes is something that is pushed under the carpet, for sheer political mileage and monetary gains.
Boston was ugly, but it re-emphasises the truth that sports events can be hit with much more ease than anything else, specifically since no one thinks they will be targeted. But since when do terrorists think like that?
The sad truth is that while we commiserate with those affected, one now has to begin to think like a terrorist. Cynical yes, but I can live with being a cynic, alive, than a dead liberal.
- A look at teams and sporting events impacted by attacks (vancouverdesi.com)
- Ten sporting events that came under terror attack (ibnlive.in.com)
- Mass sporting events and teams hit by attacks (ktvb.com)
- Sporting Events Hit By Attacks, Threats (huffingtonpost.com)
- Top News: 5 Other Sports-related Attacks (news.nationalgeographic.com)